Fiery Weekend: KZN unrest over Zuma’s jailing spreads to Gauteng

By Julia Evans 12 July 2021

Thuggery, looting and lawbreaking that started in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this weekend after the imprisonment of Jacob Zuma spilt over into Gauteng on Sunday, more specifically Alexandra and the Johannesburg East Rand.

Julia Evans

Protests in Gauteng, ostensibly against the imprisonment of Jacob Zuma, escalated into opportunistic criminality where civilians damaged property and roads, looted businesses and rioted, affecting public transport and City Power services.

In his address to the nation on Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “Let us be clear, as a nation, that we will not tolerate acts of criminality. Those who are involved in acts of violence will be arrested and prosecuted. Those found guilty of breaking the lockdown regulations will receive the stipulated penalty.”

The Office of the Chief Justice placed judges and courts, specifically in Gauteng and KZN, on alert following the emergence of a threatening voice note on WhatsApp.

The Defend our Democracy campaign, led by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, condemned the violence and said it was particularly concerned about what seemed to be the active mobilisation of disaffected people, particularly youth, behind a thinly veiled political campaign. 

In a media statement released on Sunday, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) announced that several arrests had been made in relation to the violent protests in KZN and Gauteng.

Unrest following Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment. (Photo: EPA-EFE / KIM LUDBROOK)

“The SAPS in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, working closely with their respective local Metro Police Departments, have heightened visibility and remain on high alert in response to incidents of opportunistic criminality and violent protests in the two provinces over the weekend.

“Gauteng Police working closely with the JMPD [Johannesburg Metro Police Department] last night responded swiftly to sporadic incidents of looting of businesses and barricading of roads in Jeppe and Alexandra, and arrested 25 suspects.”

In response to the looting of businesses in Alexandra, “police arrested 18 suspects — 16 of them for public violence also linked to the shooting of a police officer who was rushed to hospital for urgent medical attention. Two other police officers sustained minor injuries. The other two suspects were arrested for possession of suspected stolen property and malicious damage to property.

“This group of about 800 people is reported to have attacked police, resulting in the shooting of police officers who have now received medical attention, with only one in hospital, in a stable condition.

“In the meantime, an investigation is under way to determine the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of a 40-year-old man who was certified dead at a local clinic.” 

Because of the looting in Johannesburg, City Power, after a risk assessment, withdrew its teams (including contractors) in protest-hit areas, which include Alexandra, Malvern, Jeppestown, George Goch and parts of the CBD.

“Unfortunately this will affect outage call repairs, and maintenance, and customers may see a drop in response to certain areas, especially those affected,” City Power said.

The body of a man killed in ongoing violent clashes in downtown Johannesburg. (Photo: EPA-EFE / KIM LUDBROOK)

Gautrain announced that there will be no train services between Rosebank and Park Station until further notice. Park Station was closed on Sunday. The Rea Vaya bus service was also suspended because of the protests. 

Metrorail suspended its Gauteng train services.

In a statement, Metrorail said: “Metrorail Gauteng train commuters and employers are informed that no train services will operate in all its corridors across the Province on Monday, 12 July 2021. This is due to the chaotic scenes that are witnessed in JHB and now spilling over and affecting its operational areas.”

It would “continue closely monitoring the situation to determine when it will be safe to run the train service”.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura condemned the “lawlessness in parts of Johannesburg”. 

The Defend our Democracy campaign said the targeted acts of violence raise questions about deliberate attempts at economic sabotage. 

A burnt car at a road block in downtown Johannesburg. (Photo: EPA-EFE / KIM LUDBROOK)

“We welcome President Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments on Sunday night, indicating that those involved in acts of vandalism and criminality will be brought to book. 

We urge all arms of government to rally behind that call. Our security services must put in place proactive measures to prevent attacks from occurring, and the instigators and perpetrators of violence must be arrested and charged,” the statement said.  

“We cannot allow chaos and lawlessness to unfold, disguised as protest action. We condemn the looting, and those who have used social media to promote the mayhem. There must be consequences for the endorsement of violence.” 

They said that the organisers and instigators of violence were willing to use “the very real issues of hunger, poverty, unemployment and poor service delivery to foment chaos for their personal gain”. 

They said religious, labour, business and community-based leaders have a duty to call for calm, condemn the violence, and discount fake and inflammatory news. DM/MC


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All Comments 18

  • Expect no less in Jacob Zuma’s name.
    “…..opportunistic criminality where civilians damaged property and roads, looted businesses and rioted,…..”
    Watch these world – expect the same when Ace is booted out of the ANC or jailed. It is politics for a few who ride with SauV’s starting this rioting and the rest is plain thievery.

  • This is no random rioting – it is highly organised orchestrated looting and destabilization. Interesting that no red shirt and berets evident – these were left at home!

    • A certain Sbusiso Hadebe admitted to SL that his “Pro-Zuma RET faction of the ANC” is behind these ‘protests’. A spokesperson for SAPS also reckons that these crimes appear to be well planned.

  • Hmmm and not a mask in sight! Definitely more than 100 people gathered so no social distancing. And, where are the police or the Army?
    CR you are being challenged…I hope you have some ammunition in your arsenal!

    • The most shocking thing for me is the circulating video footage of female members of theKZN police in full uniform, casually loading their van (no 19194) with looted goods in the midst of the mayhem last night! Wow!

  • And why am I not surprised. I predicted the looting on Friday. Any excuse will do!
    “They said religious, labour, business and community-based leaders have a duty to call for calm, condemn the violence, and discount fake and inflammatory news” can’t imagine why JZ and clown Carl haven’t called for calm?? That’s what REAL leaders would do!

    • Even JZ could call for calm if there is to be any pretense that this is done in his name. Unfortunately the man has zero leadership capability other than as a rabble rouser.

  • Reports of maybe 100 arrests compare dimly with the numbers of rioters running amok, compares dimly with reports of many hundreds of arrests for perfectly peaceful non-compliance with covid-19 regulations. The SANDF called out to police adherence to covid-19 regulations, but where is the SANDF now? What is the complicity of senior ANC leadership (Minister of Police, Minister of National Security, etc)?

  • We work in Benrose. We called Jeppe Police to ask if it were safe to travel to our factory. The phone rings. We called Cleveland Police. The phone rings. We called the traffic department. The phone just rings. We called ADT and they told us that they are not travelling to the area. I told my staff not to come into the office until further notice. As if COVID wasn’t enough to deal with, we have now have to deal with anarchy!

  • It was predictable this would happen. The criminals have been let loose to cause chaos. But most South Africans clearly do not support this and it will only erode Zuma’s appeal further. If there was any doubt he’d burn down the country for his own benefit, that’s no longer the case.

    But this was always the test. Jailing Zuma would have ignited his desperate patronage networks. Now the state must crack down and show who is in charge. Then the riots will fizzle. These are not acts of conscience and principle. These are not the actions of true believers or the politcally maligned. They are the acts of criminals. They aren’t trying to free a man. They are trying to bully a country into dropping equality before the law. If we can pass this specific test, SA will be much stronger for it.

    Arrest and prosecute. No mercy. SA is tired of criminals and crime, so don’t let them win. Because that’s all this is: pure criminal opportunism. I believe our state is capable of sorting them out.

  • Police never interfered at Nkandla. Minimum force in KZN and Gauteng. It wont stop until proper forces (we only have the army ) to catch all the looters and prosecute. As these are ANC protests send the bill to Luthule House. Opinion of police at an extremely low point when we see police vans being loaded with plundered goods (video clips) and also major drug busts where police are involved.

  • For the past year at least Ace and his RET faction have been quietly laying the groundwork for this. They have been VERY active at local branch level and in the townships. The conventional ANC has been fast asleep on this and are now reaping the whirlwind.


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