South Africa

AGE OF ANARCHY

SANDF deployed to contain KZN and GP violence and looting in wake of incarceration of Jacob Zuma

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been deployed to areas in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng experiencing civil unrest. Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobozi confirmed the deployment with Daily Maverick on Monday. At the time of writing, there were six confirmed deaths.

A burnt-out car on Jules Street in Jeppestown, downtown Johannesburg on Sunday, 11 July 2021. Several shops were also looted and damaged as unrest continued for more than 24 hours in Gauteng. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

“At the present moment, the SANDF has received a request from the NatJOINTS for deployment from those areas in Gauteng and KZN. I cannot confirm when the deployment will be, but once all the processes have been completed, we will be able to deploy.”

“At the moment we don’t know [how many people]” he added. 

 SANDF was still “working on the request”. 

“Once everything has been completed, we will be able to deploy. How it will unfold, we can’t say now.” 

Mgobozi’s statements come as rumours abound that the SANDF is already in KwaZulu-Natal, and that Rooivalk helicopters have been deployed to areas in the north of the province. 

The request from NatJOINTS follows a weekend of looting and violence that started in pockets of KwaZulu-Natal and quickly spread to areas of Gauteng, ostensibly by followers of former president Jacob Zuma, who are using acts of domestic terrorism to demand that he be freed from Estcourt Correctional Centre. 

A private security guard fires rubber bullets to prevent looters from regaining access to a liquor store in Selby, Johannesburg on 11 July 2021.  (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Zuma started his 15-month sentence last week after being found in contempt of a Constitutional Court order that he appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. At the time of writing, the apex court was hearing Zuma’s application for rescission. 

NatJOINTS confirmed that as of 8.30am on Monday, 219 arrests had been made – 96 in Gauteng and 123 in KwaZulu-Natal. The total number of deaths at that time stood at six. 

“The NatJOINTS has intensified deployments in all the areas in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal affected by the violent protests as the damage to property and looting of stores continued overnight,” a NatJOINTS statement said.  

The civil unrest comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the country’s adjusted Level 4 lockdown on Sunday night. South Africa is battling a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, with mitigation measures in place that include a 9pm-to-4am curfew. 

KwaZulu-Natal is, at this stage, still experiencing the brunt of the violence, and repercussions have been particularly nasty. 

Dis-Chem said in a statement its pharmacies, including its Covid vaccination sites and drive-through testing sites, would be closed on Monday. eThekwini municipality said its clinics and community vaccination sites would be closed on Monday due to “ongoing civil unrest”. 

“The Municipality has closed its clinics due to threats that have been directed at health facilities in the City. The ongoing civil unrest has also affected community vaccination sites which have been unable to operate today. The Municipality will reassess the situation during the day and advise the public accordingly.” 

The provincial government said on Sunday that, at that stage, the estimated damage in the province – a culmination of torching of trucks, infrastructure damage and looting – sat at a “conservative” R100-million. 

This does not take into consideration the additional costs to the provincial economy, as major retailers and shopping centres remained closed on Monday. The eThekwini metro’s bus service had been suspended, and taxis were not operating. 

Daily Maverick was only able to find one retailer open in the Berea/Bluff area on Monday, with queues outside stretching to 50 people. Most residents have bunkered in their homes in townships and suburbs. The tension is palpable. 

Affected areas in eThekwini include Peacevale along the N3, Umgababa on the N2, KwaMashu, Inanda, Umlazi, Clermont, Pinetown and the CBD.  

In Umbilo on Sunday night, running gunfire could be heard at least 3km from hotspots, as the perpetrators looted liquor outlets and shops, shot at and stoned police and set fire to stores and malls. 

The Cornubia Centre, just outside Umhlanga, which is part of a huge R25-billion mixed-development housing establishment opened by Zuma in 2014, has also been targeted by looters, with a Makro warehouse coming under siege. 

Durban’s popular Springfield Park,  a manufacturing and warehousing hub and home to dozens of factory shops, has also been targeted, as have several malls throughout the city, including areas in Glenwood, Waterfall  and Reservoir Hills.

In Mtunzini, a  small village on the north coast where Zuma would occasionally stay while he was president, residents along with police and private security have barricaded the only entrance to the town.

In a coastal suburb of Richards Bay, Meerensee – where the former chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Dudu Myeni, lives – similar scenes are playing out, with the main road into the suburb also blocked by armed residents, security and police.

The latest reports from both areas are that the mood is tense but not violent.

In the largest town nearest Nkandla, eShowe – where Zuma’s bodyguards would often station themselves while on his protection detail – there have also been reports of protesting and looting.  

As of midday on Monday, no reports of attacks on foreigners in the KwaZulu-Natal area had been reported, according to Daniel Dunia, executive director of the Africa Solidarity Network. Sporadic outbursts of violence in the province often culminate in attacks on foreign-owned businesses and residents. 

However, Dunia told Daily Maverick that reports were being received of threats in Gauteng. “We have been told that once they take care of the international companies, they are coming for us,” he said. DM

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Police arrest a man in Hillbrow, Johannesburg on Sunday, 11 July 2021. Several shops were also looted and damaged and cars burnt as violence continued for 24 hours in Gauteng. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
A Bad Boyz Security guard on duty in Hillbrow, Johannesburg on Sunday. Security companies battled to disperse people and minimise damage in the city where shops were looted and cars burnt as violence swept across Gauteng (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
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  • Our president should make it clear to these ‘unemployed looters’ that the very reason they are unemployed and desperate is because the likes of Zuma, Ace and his Gupta allies have stolen billions of rand that was destined for their very own upliftment and well being in schooling and job creation. Sadly Cyril appears unable to relate to very crux of this situation and is not getting through to these individuals who have been whipped up by criminally minded tsotsis. Ramaphosa must move quickly to address this situation before it spreads and grows!!

  • At the height of the struggle against the apartheid regime, the ANC comrades vowed to make South Africa ungovernable. It seems they may soon realize their goal.

  • At present, there are only two comments, but both miss the point. SA has been a social time bomb long before apartheid came to an end. To claim that the high unemployment rate is due to Zuma and his cohort is incorrect. This has been an issue for the majority of this country for generations. It is unfortunate that the post-apartheid governments were unable to invite ALL citizens to build a country we all can be proud of. It is here were change needs to start. Another missed opportunity will bring this country to its knees.

    • With respect, which post-apartheid governments? Only one, ANC-dominated. That Zuma and his cohort are not solely to blame for unemployment is correct in my opinion but they sure as hell contributed, directly or indirectly, taking looting from past-time to national sport. The decline started long beforehand, however. Yes employment was a social time bomb long before apartheid came to an end but it sure didn’t help that both staggering incompetence and, of course, looting started shortly after “liberation” with a few examples (amidst some excellence) in the first Cabinet coming to mind including Modise (arms deal), Bengu (closure of training colleges, outcomes based education), Dlamini-Zuma (Sarafina, Virodene). Etc. A moral and competent ANC-led government even one generation ago would have made a huge difference and those born after apartheid may have had a somewhat better slice of the cake. As it is, this is already that missed opportunity that will eventually bring the country to its knees