South Africa

AGE OF ANARCHY ANALYSIS

Under investigation: Twelve masterminds planned and executed insurrection on social media, then lost control after looting spree

Suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frikkie Kapp) | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | Former special ops boss Thulani ‘Silence' Dlomo. (Photo: www.min-on.org)

South Africa suffered an insurrection attempt this week with two provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, disabled and national fuel and food supply lines disrupted. It is the first such campaign organised and orchestrated on social media and shows the potency of the medium. Just over 38 million South Africans are now on the internet and 25 million of us are on social media.

More than 70 people have died, at least 1,354 people have been arrested and 12 ringleaders are being investigated for a political campaign that has spiralled out of the control of its firestarters.

The first arson “protests” at the weekend, in which 35 trucks were torched on the N3, which links Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal and is South Africa’s food and fuel route, started the darkest week of anarchy in the country’s recent history. Information has now emerged that this was planned by intelligence operatives and other cadres loyal to Jacob Zuma. The former president is jailed at the Estcourt Correctional Centre for contempt of court and his loyalists want him out.

 “These are people with experience of running operations,” said Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa at a briefing on Wednesday. News24 reported that Zuma’s leading spymaster and the former ambassador to Japan, Thulani Dlomo, is one of 12 ringleaders being investigated by the police’s Crime Intelligence and by state intelligence as being the architects of a political campaign of which they have lost control.

The SA National Defence Force contingent deployed to end the violence was on Wednesday increased to 25,000 soldiers as the government battled to bring the situation under control: overnight, 208 more incidents of looting were reported – 52 in Gauteng and 156 in KwaZulu-Natal.

While Gauteng appears to be coming under control, the looting in Durban is being live-streamed as police prove either unable or unwilling to control the mayhem, which Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said had already cost the port city R15-billion in the week following Zuma’s jailing. 

The insurrection was organised on social media once the 12 masterminds had crafted the strategy of chaos, according to senior ANC and intelligence sources who were interviewed by Daily Maverick on condition of anonymity. The chat messages in the graphic below have been filtered off social media and reportedly come from groups on WhatsApp and Telegram where the insurrectionists organised.

The common theory now is that the truck burnings were relatively easy to organise because of the long tail of renegade MK groups (organised in new movements) active in the sector. They have been campaigning against foreign truck drivers and are regarded as being behind arson attacks on truckers for at least the past three years. Police have promised to clamp down but have not substantially dealt with the killings of more than 200 truckers since 2018.

In November 2020, two truckers died and 30 trucks were set alight in anti-foreign driver campaigns allegedly by the All Truck Drivers Forum.  

From the N3 campaign, the plan was to attack symbols of “White Monopoly Capital”, which explains the looting of warehouses and more than 200 malls. Specific chains were targeted.  

Social media messages (such as these above) reveal what was discussed at the ANC National Executive Committee meeting at the weekend and which sources in intelligence have confirmed are part of the data pile being analysed to find the ringleaders.

“We issue a stern warning to those circulating inflammatory messages on various social media platforms which are aimed at inciting violence and disregard of the law,” said the Cabinet security cluster in a statement on Tuesday. The Cabinet has asked the platform companies to track these messages and to take them down. The police cyber-crimes unit is also investigating the use of social media in incitement and as a key facet of the insurrection. 

These social posters above harvested from Twitter and other platforms show the political genesis of the looting and protest campaign – and its insurrectionary characteristics. They reveal that shutdowns were initially organised in ANC colours and that the release of Zuma is still a key demand. One of the messages tells organisers not to wear ANC colours.

While the looting campaign has appeared to be organic and leaderless, an intelligence document seen by Daily Maverick says the organisers may have worked through disgruntled ward councillors and other local ANC leaders. KwaZulu-Natal is the most divided of the ANC provinces. Neither KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala nor Mayor Kaunda have been able to condemn the mayhem without adding the rider that they do not agree with Zuma’s jailing and support a presidential pardon for him.

Social media accounts used by the so-called Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction of the ANC are high-fiving the worst violence and keep appending posts demanding Zuma’s release to these. One of the social cards shows the early advertisement of a “Rampahosa must fall” march on July 30, which seems to be the ultimate outcome of the protests: to displace the current establishment of the ANC with the RET grouping. Daily Maverick was unable to confirm whether or not this march will go ahead.

This grouping has revealed its desperation with the campaign of violence that knee-capped South Africa. A reformed National Prosecuting Authority has put key players like suspended Secretary-General Ace Magashule on the defensive as he faces Free State-related corruption charges in court in August. The ANC itself has put its own reform into top gear. In the past week, it has suspended RET spokesperson Carl Niehaus, Mpumalanga leader Michael Ngrayi Ngwenya and on Wednesday suspended the Eastern Cape renegade politician, Andile Lungisa.

The RET feeder and funder networks have been disabled by the revelations at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture – the institution whose work has turned up the heat so much that it has catalysed what some are calling an “attempted coup” this week. The insurgency or riots reveal the potency of social media as an organising tool. For a population of 59.67-million people, South Africa has 100.6 million mobile connections – people have multiple SIM cards. 

There are now 38.19 million internet users in the country, according to the Ornico SA Social Media Landscape Report released in June, and 25 million of those are active social media users. 

So, it’s no surprise that the protests and looting are likely to have been organised on WhatsApp (or Telegram, which is preferred by political cadres) and then amplified on Facebook and Twitter. But social media is also being used to stage a counter-rebellion of the good. 

Communities are organising themselves into watch-patrols and clean-up teams to seize the upper hand from the organisers of a campaign that has halted the optimistic momentum of South Africa’s vaccine drive and which threatens the green shoots of economic recovery from the devastating Covid-19 campaign. DM

See this interactive map below – you can click on the red hot spots for specific details of the areas, and can zoom in using your mouse.

These hotspots have been collated from reports of violence between Friday, 9 July, and Wednesday, 14 July 2021, and represent key areas of violence rather than all instances. They are not exhaustive and instances of violence continue to be reported. On Wednesday, 14 July, at 4.30pm, Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said 52 incidents of violence in Gauteng and 156 incidents in KwaZulu-Natal had been reported overnight. (Collated by Greg Nicolson and Karabo Mafolo in collaboration with data from the Institute for Security Studies)

 

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All Comments 89

    • Fully agree.
      Given the way that the ANC’s tolerated & pussyfooted around its crooked members in the not too distant past, I wonder who is going to investigate who?
      Slaps on their wrists & temporary suspensions on full pay while they’re investigated?

      Of course they know who these people are. These are the tragic results of the politics of appeasement.

      This is treason of the highest magnitude & deserves the harshest of punishment to be handed down. Let’s where this goes……

  • Great analysis of what I think is one element of the current crisis. My worry is that the focus on the ‘insurrectionists’ leaves Government free to NOT focus on the underlying social conditions – from pure desperate hunger to total disengagement from a social structure that has systematically excluded so many. So while Cele goes on about ‘the 12’ and Cabinet issues ‘stern warnings’, the tinder-dry bonfire that those pro-Zuma/renegade MK/RET warriors were able to so effectively light, remains untouched, bar some violent military or vigilante attention.

    • So true. And the idiots such as Cele grootbek and Fikile doen FKall Mbalula prancing around in front of the cameras whilst the looting goes on in the background are supposed to calm things and give confidence??
      When I see two contradiction in terms “police’s Crime Intelligence and by state intelligence” I am definitely dubious.
      If we don’t all address the real issues that allow the 12 disciples to start a war in the first place, we will never truly end it. But as long as these useless individuals have someone to blame they will continue to do nothing about the real causes.

    • Agreed – we’ve got to start visibly fixing the underlying issues (jobs, BIG, vaccinations, etc) quickly while tackling the corruption pandemic forcefully. The question is who is the “we”?

      • Quite agree. Actions such as BIG, food stamps and other health and welfare provisions are urgently required at whatever cost. It will be less than the alternative.

    • I agree, why are the names kept secret? because if they realise that someone skipped the country, they do not want to be embarrassed?

  • The poster to shut down Mandeni refers to the Steel Bridge across the Tugela. I wonder if the spelling of Steal Bridge is perhaps a Freudian slip?

    • Hahaha they are simply too stupid to know the difference between what it is made of and what they were supposed to do with it. The next poster probably said ‘Sale to spaza scrap’.

  • Good job 👌

    But now what?

    They’ve got JZ, Ace, Carl, Andile; when will they at least arrest the 12; or maybe even just one?!

    When will the ConCourt rule on JZ? Hopefully they won’t rescind the original ruling; but by rather increase the sentence to the 2 years the Commission originally asked for; better still, increase it in line with the sentences imposed for being behind and a part of what’s happening in our country right now!

    And not only who will be feeding the people, but how and with what?

    Like I said, now what?

      • Yes, the 90-day law in the good old days of Apartheid provides the perfect model. No, wait . . . didn’t that increase to 180-days? Who says we can’t learn anything from history? Then, provide nice slippery bars of soap to help the detainees get downstairs to their shower cubicles as fast as possible. And keep them in 9th-floor rooms at police HQ with the windows propped open to help them escape more easily.

        • Tread very carefully. You are asking for the suspension of the rule of law. Is that what you really want? I think that the organisers of the current unrest would be delighted if the rule of law was suspended. The article is excellent; your reaction is dangerous!

          • Are you responding to Parr’s comment or mine? If the latter, you have no clue about the concept of IRONY. I’ll be charitable, and assume it’s the former.

          • Erm . . . my comment was intended to convey an IRONIC response to Parr’s ridiculous suggestion of indefinite detention.

          • Agreed. Do NOT let the scum achieve their goal of eviscerating democratic norms. It may be the easy, short-term solution…but once that road is trodden…

  • In China, Cuba, Venezuela and the rest of Africa these “counter revolutionaries” would have been in jail from the first moment that they were found plotting and succeeding to cause treasonous acts. These are riots to overthrow the ANC Party and with it the ANC Government from within.

    • Tread very carefully. You are asking for the suspension of the rule of law. Is that what you really want? I think that the organisers of the current unrest would be delighted if the rule of law was suspended. The article is excellent; your reaction is dangerous! I do not want a government like the ones you mistakenly turn to as role moddles

    • The comments is to demonstrate the ANC Government / EFF friends. China – is part of BRICS and so are we, Cuba – we have Cuban “assistance” to run our medical, water and military (missing are Cuban engineers to assist Eskom), Venezuela – the friend of EFF commander in chief Julius Malema, where there has been mass emigration from that Country to Colombia and the Country with the richest oil reserves has gone to complete poverty with failed socialist policies ( backed by corruption ). As long as we stay in the rules of the Constitution / Law we will be ok. Do not read into a statement more than what is stated.

  • Thank you. This is still a very volatile situation to say the least. The people behind this must be charged with treason and spend a longer time in jail. I am a bit comforted that there was no participation at all from other so called RET provinces like North West and Free State.
    The government obviously needs to do more to alleviate poverty and other social ills. I do believe that as a country we were heading in the right direction before the Covid-19 pandemic. If we all do our part, we can save our country.

  • Interesting analysis. I wonder if the name David Mabuza may find its way into the 12? It was only about a month ago that he slipped off to Russia for “medical treatment”. We know that he comes from a background of massive corruption in Mpumalanga. We know that as Deputy President he has been very quiet, and has only looked supportive of Ramaphosa under duress. This article points out that the RET faction has been losing funding as the crackdown on corruption advances, and we know from things like the action taken by the USA against the Gupta empire that the RET faction has been losing international support.

    • I share your concern about David Mabuza. I doubt that was actively involved in the unrest of the past few days. But he would be the main beneficiary if Ramaphosa were to collapse. And I think he is wily enough to know that the overwhelming majority of the voters are behind Ramaphosa rather then the desperate and increasingly weakened RET faction.

    • Maybe David went to get that Russian covid injection which Juju has been touting so aggressively for all South Africans ! Maybe he is hoping the Russian version contains an amnesia component also !

  • Ramaphosa is going to have to dig deep and do the right thing. He is finally going to have choose between his country and his party. The arrest of all the ANC members committing acts of terrorism is seditious and treasonous, and should be treated as such. He has to clean out his cabinet and get rid of the Zuma appointments – the mice in the kitchen – including NDZ, who has been very quiet of late, Cele, Dlodlo, Zulu, and even Sisulu. Even if he does do that, which even now I doubt, we know without a doubt that the ANC cannot be allowed to govern us any longer.

    • Hear, hear! Please add Mabuza to that list! Of course Rammyposy is not going to act decisively – he doesn’t have it in him. He will never put country and the suffering poor above the ANC – it is against his genetic make-up. Unfortunately, there is not many alternatives to the ANC at this point to govern…

    • Well, he’s certainly got spears in his back. He has a big job today having 70% of this cabinet and govt arrested and a huge cleanout at SAPS.

  • They should be arrested and charged with treason. Life imprisonment, no possibility of parole.
    Dump them in a dark cell and forget about them.

    • Should the allegations against ‘The Twelve’ prove to be true, it may be a good idea to recommission Robben Island whilst the treason trial is underway?

      • Surely this is an attempt to overthrow the state and amounts to treason? What about culpable homicide in respect of all those killed as a direct consequence of their plan? Those involved should be charged and jailed without the option of bail. Who knows what damage they will do whilst out on bail. It would appear that JZ was a ring leader, so it is easy to just keep where he is while charges of treason are investigated. While they are at it they can line up the others: Arms deal, state capture etc. Looks as though he is going to have to live a LONG time to serve all the sentences.

        • Don’t forget how Trump gets others to take the ‘fall’ while he keeps his distance…and I am not sure who teaches who … but JZ has a lot in common with that con artist ! They have become masters of that craft.

          • At some stage I thought Trump was a clone of Zuma but I am beginning to think they might be twins. Does anyone know their date of birth?.

  • I think that the fact that Zuma has not once appealed to the public to stop the rioting, looting, violence etc shows he has no moral fibre, and is fully supportive of what is going on. If/when he is freed from jail, I think the matters will escalate, along with a drive to have him reinstated as President.

  • Well done, Ferial.
    Keep exposing the corrupt and those plotting evil for selfish ends.
    In so doing you are fighting for righteousness & justice.

  • What does my nut is the talking heads from various think tanks that come on radio and say maybe it would be better to release prisoner zuma. That’s the kind of outcome you should expect from paying people that studied philosophy instead logic.

  • I would bet my house that no-one responsible will be charged, and we will once again see how pathetically useless and weak CR is!

  • Well written Ferial. Also I agree with Ronnie Kasirils. What gave the whole RET plan unsuspected impetus were the greedy with their cars stealing. Hunger is the real enemy. Immediate food to feed a family is more important than land to grow food. All of us have to bite the bullet and consider a basic income grant for all South Africans. SASSA is a makeshift mess that doesn’t provide answers, only patronage.

    • Not sure who provided the basic grant for the original settlers of this country – as far as I know, they worked their arses off and grew or built what they needed for their families. Has society changed so much that individuals no longer have rights over their own destiny? A spot of birth control wouldn’t be amiss in this country – perhaps social grants should be a reward for decent morals and not a right for those that don’t give a toss! Just my opinion…probably won’t go down so well with the bleeding heart brigade!

  • This might all be true but it really isn’t the problem is it? The problem is a dysfunctional government that has failed its people: failed in jobs, services, vaccines and everything else. A police force with no resources and an incompetent army.
    So to distract from this they point to conspiracies. Without all the preceding such conspiracies would never have mobilised anything, and would have been exposed the conspirators as just as incompetent as the government.
    All of these people belong to an organisation that could not even organise its own 100th birthday.
    The “intelligence” services major strength has always been to produce forgeries that they can give to newspapers “to see”.
    If you accept this story it won’t change anything useful. This is really not the issue. This is not cause.
    Cele and Co will use this to stay in the job instead of getting fired as they should be for gross incompetence.

  • Caught with their pants down says Min Defence…..I would say the ANC are caught stripped naked ….And Zizi R1m in the bank….says they were caught unprepared …go tell that to the businesses that no longer exist and taxpayers…

  • Zuma’s expected release from prison after four months seemed to be accepted as fact in all media reports.
    This must not happen. He should stay in prison for the full term.

  • Truly great to know our government still has at least some intelligence capacity to find the real perpetrators of this, yes treasonous, attack on our democracy. I propose though that we start challenging MP’s and President Ramaphosa first to surrender half their bloated salaries and benefits to be applied for well planned sustainable community development projects creating real jobs. And then we take this call to the likes of the Wieses, Ruperts and Oppenheimers of this country and show them that example ourselves. If we share we will save SA. If we don’t…?

  • The president with his inept handling of the crisis assisted by his incompetent securocrats, has cost this country billions.A true successor to Zuma.

  • I would like to see far less castigation of our President who, it seems to me, has walked an incredibly dangerous tightrope between overreacting (which would have handed his enemies Marikana as a bludgeon to destroy government) and letting things get out of hand. Yes, the damage has been ruinous and no doubt there is lots to criticise, but no fuel was added to the fire and time and weather are blunting the resolve of the anarchists. Lots of those looters will now be regretting their actions, and those behind this are exposed as the traitors they are. If CR holds his nerve and his course, and takes down those responsible, this may mark the beginning of a much brighter future.

    • Fully agree, Ron Ron. Ramaphosa is on a knife edge…which means SA is on a knife edge. He is playing a dangerous, delicate long game. Zuma-ites are everywhere entrenched.

    • Your optimism may be misplaced … because people like Zizi Kodwa (deputy min. of security!) whose ‘confessions’ before Zondo recently (not forgetting our ex minister of health who took the hippocratic/hypocracy oath) are still part of the ‘deployed cadres’ that make up the ‘establishment’! The ones with any real ethical concerns have long ago ‘stepped aside’ to avoid further the reputational contamination – not unlike the ‘Lincoln Project’ by some Republicans in the US.

    • We have those in the ANC and those opposition parties who support the constitution to the hilt. We must drop our petty differences and support Cyril. He is the snake charmer in a pit of ANC snakes.

  • A sobering and insightful take on matters. What I found most interesting is the reference to Zizi Kodwa’s statement about ‘operations’ … this is the same individual who at the Zondo commission claimed he took a personal million rand (no strings attached mind you !) ‘loan’ …. to buy a top of the range vehicle of that value … and (wait for it!) because he was financially ‘distressed’ at the time !!! How do people like these still find a ‘home’ in the ANC and have credibility? It should not surprise us that desperate RET members/fellow travelers have now lost access to the asbestos, VBS , Bosasa et al loot/piggy banks !

  • I suspect some names on the list of 12 will surprise a lot of folks, and more names will soon be added. I really hope they will be prosecuted for treason. CR must remember that cometh the moment does not last very long !

  • I think David Attenborough said it perfectly…
    In nature, if you take 100Red ants and 100 Black ants and put them in a glass jar, nothing will happen.
    But if you shake that jar violently and leave it on a table, the ants will start killing each other.
    Red believes black is the enemy and visa versa, when the real enemy is the person who shook the jar! Excellent analogy I think in our current situation!

  • No mention yet of the cadre who set up the secret parallel stream within the Secret Service – Arthur Fraser. This all came out in the Zondo Comm. Would not surprise me if its the agents within this stream who are running the insurrection. Suggest Cape Town keep a close watch on this Fraser family.

    • Yes, I agree that Fraser and the Principal Agent Network (PAN) he set up are very likely implicated in this. I have also always fancied Arthur as Busisiwe’s handler, never mind that he is no longer the SSA Director General. I would be pleasantly surprised if he is turns up among the “twelve masterminds”,

  • Why so coy about names? DM feeds that narrative to Government.

    The narrative of “good CR17” versus “the bad old guard” is naive – Cyril Ramaphosa was the first and largest beneficiary of the Nedlac/Codesa “blessing” of billions in 1994, when Anglo American gifted its stake in Johnnic to the National Empowerment Consortium, led by Cyril Ramaphosa and NAIL. Wonder what a billionaire 24 years ago, is worth today?

    Our culture is “vrot” from the top right down to ward councillors, with racism and entitlement to empower looting in the name of BBBEE. Our entire economy has been bent to bribery and corruption throughout every board room in this land, resulting in the emergence of “super elite” billionaires, millionaire councillors (go figure!) and hundreds of thousands of students with a free pass to more than a million rand indulgences per year.

    And the officially unemployed 46%? The ANC’s answer is not to create jobs, but to expect taxpayers to gift them all with a “basic income grant” of protection money.

    The police stand back, by and large, hapless, incompetent and leave it to the most vulnerable to fend for themselves. The military is a disgrace.

    Look at cabinet, the corrupt through every level of Govrnment during Cyril’s decade of vice presidency and presidency.

    The good guy?

    Wake up

    Protection rackets are notorious, within the taxi (and drug running) community, whose ambiguity in carrying stolen property and defending “their territory, is notorious.

  • Both premier Zikalala and mayor Kaunda were totally absent during the unrest, either terrified to risk being seen in public, or is there another more sinister reason they were not in the forefront of providing much needed leadership during the unrest? I, personally, fear the latter may be the real reason, but whatever the reason, the people of KZN, and Durban in particular, do not deserve these week ineffective leaders. Will Kaunda act against councillors involved in this terrible destruction of our city, or does his loyalty to the dark force prohibit him from acting in the interests of all the law abiding citizens of Durban, black or white?

  • The state now has zero credibility with anyone. “The hat-man”, Jesse “James”, Fikile M’bungl’ula, Zihle Zikalala-land, Mavis-the-tealady, Gready Mantashe and all the other gormless orks that constitute the highest positions within this government are an offence to anyone across the entire political spectrum. The lethargy that these mindless individuals apply to even the most obvious calls for urgent and decisive action amount to complicity. How is it possible that these half-witted individuals continue to believe in themselves? The dictum of the ANC holds that there is no shame amongst thieves.