Although events coincided, there was no evidence the unrest was linked to Zuma arrest.
SAHRC Commissioner Philile Ntuli has revealed that the commission’s report had found that July unrest in 2021 was an orchestrated event which required that individuals act with one voice to achieve its end.
She said the various state institutions which investigated the events which spread from KZN to Gauteng including the blocking of the N3 and N2 and the destruction of factories, malls and other institutions, were orchestrated.
Ntuli added that prevalent socio-economic factors in some of the affected communities also played a role in furthering the unrest that resulted in the deaths of at least 337 people in KZN and Gauteng.
Ntuli was briefing the media about the SAHRC’s findings on the July 2021 unrest which started in KZN and moved to provinces such as Gauteng and the Free State. At least 3 400 people were arrested on allegations of inciting public violence, murder, arson, and looting.
The Commission also looked at “the social, economic, spatial and political factors prevalent in the various areas and the extent to which these played a role in the July unrests.”
“The commission states the following findings: the event shows that the acts during the unrests were indeed orchestrated. The blocking of the N3 and the N2, the calculated destruction of factories and warehouses, the organised disconnection of security and fire alarm systems, the attack on government communication facilities at the Durban port, the bombing and the removal of ATMs, together cannot be viewed as mutually distinct,” Ntuli said.
In addition to the lives lost the unrest had resulted in more than R50 billion in economic and 150 000 in job losses.
Ntuli said there had been a coordinated effort to destabilise the country.
“These events point to a significant investment in the execution of the July unrest. The evidence further points to two types of actors in and during the unrest. The primary actors who were well resourced, led and executed the widespread destruction of property and perpetrated arson attacks. They then in turn mobilised secondary actors who participated in acts of theft at malls and other business premises,” she said.
There was suspicion that the unrest was in retaliation to the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma who was forced to hand himself over to the Estcourt Correctional Centre after the Constitutional Court ordered that he be arrested for his failure to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
However, Ntuli revealed that while the timing of the events of the July 2021 unrest coincided with the arrest of Zuma, the commission did not find evidence linking the two events.
“The timing of the events of July coincided with the incarceration of the former president Zuma, this caused an intertwining that blurred the lines between where one ended and where the other started. This intersection of events has led many to conclude that the two are indeed related. However, the commission finds that while timing of the unrest coincided with the incarceration of the former president it could not find evidence to link the two events,” she said.