South Africa


Civil unrest death toll tops 330 while Zuma heads back to prison peacefully

Civil unrest death toll tops 330 while Zuma heads back to prison peacefully
Former president Jacob Zuma's convoy is saluted by MKMVA soldiers manning the roadblock on the road leading to his late brother Michael Zuma's home, where his funeral was held on Thursday. (Photo: Supplied)

Former president Jacob Zuma’s stint outside prison to attend the funeral of his brother was without incident, authorities confirmed on Thursday afternoon. The situation in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng now remains stable – while the death toll from the recent looting has reached 337.

Thursday brought a few hours of freedom for former president Jacob Zuma, who was permitted to leave the Estcourt Correctional Centre to attend his brother Michael’s funeral.

As reported by Daily Maverick earlier in the day, Zuma was accompanied by a convoy of vehicles to the Nkandla funeral, which he had been granted permission to attend on compassionate grounds.  

Although there had been concerns that Zuma’s supporters might try to prevent him from returning to prison, Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said at a 4.30pm press briefing that he had already returned without incident. There were no reports of unrest related to Michael Zuma’s funeral or Jacob Zuma’s appearance at it.

Ntshavheni said that Zuma had been accompanied by “correctional officers supported by law enforcement agencies”.

At the press briefing, Ntshavheni faced tough questioning from journalists about the scant and sometimes contradictory information given by the government relating to the recent unrest.

The minister announced that the looting death toll had reached 337, with 79 deaths in Gauteng and 258 in KwaZulu-Natal. She explained that the “revision of the records happens when those who were injured ultimately succumb to their injuries”.

As has been the case previously, however, almost no details are forthcoming about the nature of these deaths. Ntshavheni said only that 42 cases of murder had been opened in Gauteng, and 171 cases of murder opened in KwaZulu-Natal. Thirty-seven inquest dockets had been opened in Gauteng and 87 inquest dockets opened in KwaZulu-Natal. She added that the SAPS had opened 132 cases of arson in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Law enforcement agencies are continuing with their investigations to ensure that instigators and key participants in the unrest are brought to book,” Ntshavheni said.

“There are no new updates on the arrests of the instigators.”

With regards to the arrests of four people in Gauteng over the past few days, reportedly for incitement of violence, the minister was questioned whether these individuals formed part of the 12 original masterminds that the government said it was pursuing for having orchestrated the alleged insurrection.

“The four suspects are part of the key players, whether they are called masterminds or whatever,” Ntshavheni said.

Later, she added: “All instigators, be they 12, be they more, will be arrested.”

The National Prosecuting Authority said on Thursday that at this stage there is “no evidence” that those arrested had committed treason or terrorism, with the only charges brought relating to the incitement of public violence.

Ntshavheni said that it was not the state’s job to prescribe charges to prosecutors, but that it was expected that further charges would be added as the cases progress.

She was also asked to respond to Amnesty International’s call for authorities to “reveal what they knew and when, in the days leading to the violence which unnecessarily cost many people’s lives”.

The minister responded that the international human rights organisation was “going beyond its own scope of work”, and said that a full investigation into events was under way.

“It’s not in the best interests of this country to disclose the intelligence information that was at the disposal of the state,” she said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    So, in other words, it we know f… all about set the charge.

  • Peter Dexter says:

    I suggest that those arrested will be insignificant players, while the real instigators, probably important members of the ANC, possibly guilty of insurrection or treason, will be overlooked due to “who they are.” The real mastermind behind the carnage of last week has just shown South Africa “the finger” just as he did to the Constitutional Court and proven that the legal and correctional system does not treat all people as equal before the law. After a week of destruction and lost lives, which many feel, should see him incarcerated for the rest of his life, he is granted this special privilege by Correctional Services. Or is it standard procedure for ordinary prisoners to be granted compassionate leave to attend family member’s funerals, and be transported in there in luxury vehicles? There appears to be the law applicable to normal South Africans, and another set of laws that apply to “the comrades.”

  • John Kennedy says:

    “It’s not in the best interests of this country to disclose the intelligence information that was at the disposal of the state,” she said. DM

    And….. BOOM!!!
    Back in the Botha era of the infamous 80’s

  • Lorinda Winter says:

    Incredible. Transported in and accompanied by luxury vehicles, most probably dressed to the nines (courtesy of the South African taxpayer). Has he ever been in prison uniform? Lovely. In my next life I want to return as Jakob Zuma.

    • Louis Potgieter says:

      I saw a report that said the cavalcade at the time of Zuma’s arrest was 10 vehicles. Presumably now again. For an ex-president. Does Mbeki also have this? We have been made aware of the hunger and privation of many South Africans. How does this make you feel?


    Rebecca, you should be reporting on more important topics..i.e I believe there is a commision sitting castigating white cricketers. Graeme smith and Boucher et al. surely this is more important than wondering where the individuals guilty of treason are skulking? We all need . to get our priorities right. Right?

  • Gerrit Marais says:

    This is why it pains me to pay taxes. It is wasted on scum like this.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

Make your taxes work for you

Donate to Daily Maverick’s non-profit arm, the Scorpio Investigative Unit, by 29 February 2024 and you’ll qualify for a tax break.

We issue Section 18A tax certificates for all donations made to Daily Maverick. These can be presented to SARS for tax relief.

Make your donation today

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick The Gathering 2024 banner

Daily Maverick has secured an esteemed speaker line-up...

to help make sense of Elections 2024.

Trevor Manuel, Prof Thuli Madonsela and Minister Ronald Lamola are among the latest panellists confirmed for Daily Maverick The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four.

Join us, on Thurs 14 March 2024 at CTICC Cape Town or online wherever you are, for an event that will put the election in perspective.

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider