The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it cannot identify who the “primary actors" were in the July 2021 civil unrest, which caused the deaths of more than 300 people.
The Commission said it had not been given any clear evidence that suggested who may have been behind the engineered destruction.
This is according to the SAHRC’s report looking into the 2021 July unrest that broke out in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal after former president Jacob Zuma was imprisoned for contempt of court.
Although it could not pinpoint the people responsible for the deaths of hundreds and property damages in the billions, the SAHRC said the events that unfolded during the unrest were well orchestrated.
It also said those participating in the unrest were from two groups of people, namely those leading the destruction and arson attacks and those who participated in acts of theft at malls and other business premises.
“In light of the overarching state of concurrent unrest, the commission has not been provided with clear evidence naming specific identifiable groups or individuals who were primary actors in the unrest.
“While the evidence points to high-level orchestration in the modus operandi of the July unrest, an overarching common purpose or intention could not be established,” the commission said.
The SAHRC also said that black South Africans were targeted during the unrest and looting because of their race.
The commission made specific mention of incidents in Phoenix, Khan Road corner settlement, Chatsworth, Montclair, and other suburbs in KwaZulu-Natal.
Residents in these areas had to barricade and form their own security, as police were stretched thin and they had to do what they could to protect their assets and properties.
The people of KZN were left to defend themselves, their homes, and their businesses as hordes of rioters and opportunistic criminals sought to take advantage of the situation.
The Daily News reported that some of those people affected by violence during the unrest and who have lost loved ones, felt that the report did nothing but open old wounds.
Zandile Nguse, the mother of a 16-year-old boy, Thobani Nguse, who was shot and killed during the unrest, said their lives changed for the worse, but the government has shown no remorse, the Daily News reported.
Nguse said the SAHRC made recommendations to the government, but their lives are still stuck in the dark.
Unable to deal with the trauma of losing her brother, Nguse’s daughter attempted suicide twice.
Her son was killed during the attack on the Khan Road Corner informal settlement in the Msunduzi Municipality.
According to testimonies given to the SAHRC by community members, the attack was carried out by private security officials and members of the Community Policing Forum.
The Commission believes that South Africa was fertile ground for such an event to take place, given the course and state of the country.
The SAHRC also noted the flawed role of South Africa’s intelligence agency in the July unrest.
“These exacerbating factors include an economy undergoing post-Covid-19 recovery, high rates of unemployment, high levels of lawlessness and criminality in the country, systemic unfair discrimination, deep socio-economic divides, and the politicisation or hollowing out of the security sector,” the SAHRC said.
Meanwhile, the 65 instigators charged for their alleged involvement in the July 2021 unrest made their frist appearance in the Durban High Court on Tuesday.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the matter was adjourned to April 8 for some of the accused to finalise their legal representation.
They face charges ranging from terrorism, conspiring the commission of terrorism, sedition, public violence, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit public violence, and incitement to commit public violence.