South Africa

THE AFTERMATH

ANC members lodged ‘boast posts’ on WhatsApp groups after looting and truck hijackings

Burnt out trucks on a road in the Sea Cow Lake area of Durban on 12 July 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

As KwaZulu-Natal declares a State of Disaster due to the magnitude of destruction caused by the recent rioting and destruction, ANC whistle-blowers want the party to act against implicated members.

ANC, ANC Youth League and SA Youth Congress members sent boast posts of lootings and truck hijackings at the height of the anarchy that ripped through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng from July 9-16. 

The posts show how organisers planned mayhem on the WhatsApp groups and within the structures of the governing party. The master group was first called “Free Zuma Coordinators” and later changed to “Free Zuma Information” with satellite groups spread across different geographies. 

On the smaller groups, members planned which roads or highways would be closed and where looting would occur. Then they posted back to the commanders when members had executed a plan.

Former president Jacob Zuma was imprisoned on the night of 7 July and two nights later truck hijackings on the N3 at the Mooi River Toll Plaza started the seven nights of terror that catapulted South Africa to the top of global headlines as a frenzy of riots and looting shocked the world. On that night, ANC members posted images of trucks that had been hijacked and parked across the highway in a shutdown that lasted almost a full week. 

The perpetrators took videos and posted them on various groups. The graphic shows screen grabs from one of the posts. In one, an ANC member said, “Get Nxamalala [Zuma] out.” Then, he recorded that no traffic was moving on the highways, and he implored other cadres to shut down other arterial routes. “So, we ask you Comrades, that you must get up in your areas, even if it is just ten of you, and stop four trucks in the road and then you’ll be done, and you can leave. Take the keys of those trucks; we thank you,” said the recorded instruction, which they posted across groups. 

ANC Youth League member Sanele Zakhele Masuku confirmed to Daily Maverick that he had posted the video, but said he had not been involved — although ANC whistle-blowers who collected the material say he is the source. 

“Oh, ja, I remember posting this video, but I am not sure about the group’s name. I got it from other groups as well,” said Masuku, who confirmed that he is a member of the ANC and the ANC Youth League. “I posted in some other groups; they need to free him [Zuma] as he’s in jail. It’s not a right thing to do because he’s old,” said Masuku.

Across the groups, numerous posts of the truck hijackings and burnings were posted, some with the boasting message “we’re at it” attached to it. On social media, Masuku big-manned and posted a message translated as “Please arrest me after I close the N2”.

“If you look at the night of July 9, there was an element of planning,” says Gavin Kelly, chief executive of the Road Freight Association. He said the N3 toll gate was strategically chosen as trucks had to stop there — it was an “easy target” and that truckers there were sitting ducks who were often attacked.

“This had nothing to do with the foreign driver matter. This was about causing a congestion point at the toll gate and creating anarchy. Most reports we’ve received are that there were no attacks on drivers. It was about the impassibility of roads,” said Kelly. 

Over that weekend, 250 trucks were burnt or hijacked, 45 of them on the N3 and the coastal N2 route in Durban. The rest were destroyed or damaged in retail and warehouse sites, said Kelly. Smaller attempts were made to block major highways in Johannesburg (M2 in both directions) and parts of the N4 in Mpumalanga. These were less successful. 

 Mall looting planned on WhatsApp and reported back

This graphic shows how the Bridge City Mall looting was planned. The planners set a meeting time of 3am, calling upon members to “mobilise all our forces on the ground”. One member asks, “Please advise if transport will be arranged.” Later, the members post the looting back to the group. Bridge City Mall is in KwaMashu, Durban, and is near a station — it sprawls over 39,000m2 and was badly damaged in the looting. It was one of the malls President Cyril Ramaphosa visited on 16 July, surrounded by a steel ring of police officers and soldiers, absent when the mall was attacked.

This shows that at least some of the looting was organised by local political activists. The language they use, like “mobilise all our forces”, is that of a political organisation. Members called each other “comrade”. The Bridge City Mall looting was probably organised by the INK WhatsApp group, one of the most active in the unrest. “INK” is an acronym for Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu.

The initial protests and looting were planned specifically as part of the campaign to free Zuma from jail, but the looting later became organic for days as the organisers lost control of the programme they had started. 

By 22 July, the South African Property Owners Association reported that 100 malls had been looted, burnt or significantly damaged by fire, and about 3,000 stores looted. In Durban alone, R1.5-billion in stock was lost.

Over the week, overstretched police arrested almost 1,700 people in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. In Durban, some of those arrested posted their arrests via video messages from the back of police vans into their WhatsApp groups. 

While the police said the arrests were for criminal charges, the protesters understood it as political. “Oh well, children of [Oliver] Tambo, a person has been captured. The police have arrested us in town while we were trying to picket. We have been arrested. We are inside,” said a post. Another woman posted that she was related to Police Minister Bheki Cele and was released. Another said Indian police had let them go on a warning. 

All the WhatsApp group posts have a common theme: the organisers and protesters used the language of ANC politics to organise themselves and their actions, suggesting that what was initially a political campaign ran out of control and transmogrified into something else. 

ANC whistle-blowers want action against party perps

Some of the evidence Daily Maverick has used is from whistle-blowers in the ANC who are shocked at what their fellow members did in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. 

“The province [KZN] and region [eThekwini] of the ANC must act immediately, or the [ANC] NEC must act against ANC KZN,” said an activist party member. “We cannot ignore these instigators and perpetrators. They must be reported to the police, suspended and removed from government jobs. 

“While the ‘big fish’ will be harder to catch (as they will be more careful), the government employees, members of branches, RECs [regional executive committees], and local tenderpreneurs who planned, instigated, and actually did the damage must be arrested and held accountable,” said the activist. 

He said the group wanted to see action against perpetrators who had collected tyres (to be burnt at protests), used bulldozers (to block roads with sand), petrol bombs, and mobilised to cause destruction.

“In situations like this, you want to catch the person who gave the instruction.”

The ANC activists have compiled a list of 30 names they believe the police should be investigating, but are yet to hand it over to anyone. DM

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All Comments 29

  • For years we have recognised the ANC for its incompetence, dishonesty and corruption. To that we can now add violence and a total disrespect for the rule of law.
    It is not a political party – it is an unprincipled gang of thugs.

      • Margaret Thatcher, October 1987: Thatcher was asked by a journalist for her response “to a reported ANC statement that they will target British firms in South Africa?” She replied: “when the ANC says that they will target British companies. This shows what a typical terrorist organisation it is.”

    • Never mind not being a political party, the ANC’s not even a government, it’s a criminal cabal masquerading as a government.

      The rot is so wide & so deep, I can’t see how they’re going to take action against all of their members involved in this. In true Ramaphosa fashion, it’ll more than likely be swept under the carpet, and SA will continue on its downward trajectory…..I really hope I’m wrong.

  • The saddest, and most frightening, part of this situation is the almost complete absence of SAPS anywhere!
    We’re they ordered to absent themselves from duty or did they just leave civilians to defend themselves?
    Either way they surely have lost the trust of the people of South Africa!

    • Exactly, and now more action is apparently being taken against citizens defending their communities against the mobs than is being taken against the known instigators. Go figure.

  • “children of Tambo” if this refers to a great leader like Oliver Tambo, this bunch of hooligans has just insulted a great man whose integrity would never be questioned, unlike these twits. Shame on them all!

  • If ever there was proof needed that the ANC constitutes a criminal organisation, this is it. As usual there are a couple of good guys, but they better climb off this Mafia train fast or sink with it. The organisation is unsalvagable and need to disappear from the SA landscape if its citizens still want a country. Never mind Zimbabwe. We are fast approaching the Somalian model.

    • It’s a sad situation for a once honourable organisation and I’d say that the change started when they decided to follow a military option instead of political negotiation as it attracted different types of people into the organisation.

  • It amazes me that DM and whistle blowers have this information and can identify as many as 30 instigators, but the arms of our security forces are not able to gain sufficient evidence just to arrest the 12 they identified up front.
    I guess CR is too busy working out a “get out of jail free” strategy for his minister of health than to worry about the actions of his other comrades

  • articles like this one have abounded since the riots, but what notice has been taken by the ANC, none. Tito says that corruption etc has affected the economy, what has resulted, nothing. Tito does not even blush when he makes these comments. CR does nothing. Cele does nothing.

  • This whole situation is quite unbelievable- with this amount of information, there is still no action from the so-called government! It is shocking. Why don’t the private sector, such as the freight truckers association, large chain stores which have been looted etc, launch a class action lawsuit against those implicated,as there seems to be enough evidence, using private forensics and detection?

    • Certainly SASRIA should be claiming from the instigators, the SAPS and the intelligence services. Why not the ANC as well.

  • The ANC whistle blowers mentioned in this article must be applauded and supported in their quest for action against the perpetrators.

  • The difficulty with explaining whether it was an insurrection, comes from the confusion that an insurrection is meant to overthrow a government. In this case, the government (ANC) is trying to overthrow itself (ANC), hence the confusion!

    It is time those very few disciplined ANC members, working for a “democratic, new South Africa” divest themselves from the current party. The use of the word “comrade” reflects that they still think of themselves as freedom fighters in a war. How you are supposed to free yourself from your own rule of 27 years, I do not understand. But then, no one blame these members of being deep thinkers. The new South Arica, after 27 years, can not really call itself new anymore. Imagine, the ANC has now been in government for more than half the time of the previous regime. Yet this “new” government still has to free themselves, are still aiming to get some basics right.
    What has happened in education, in 27 years? How has provision of services improved in 27 years? How much has the economy grown in 27 years? Yes, some services like electricity has been distributed more widely than before, which is good. Unfortunately, that now just means that load shedding happens to more people, for the service, although distributed, has been destroyed in the meantime.

    Please just go, just go.

  • Of course after blatantly talking out their p******s, everybody who instigated or participated will suddenly claim they actually did nothing wrong. That they simply shared messages and footage from other sources. The folks implicated have seen the Stalingrad strategy being used for a lucrative 2-term Presidency resulting in a gravy train that carries a whole bunch of non-state related individuals enjoying the largesse of prisoner Zuma’s tenure as president… and will probably use every available avenue to decry their victimisation. It would be interesting to see the NPA choose (as is their independent mandate) bring up groups of people on Treason and sedition charges, though Adv. Batohi et al will probably be counselled not to for all kinds of reasons including the desire to be civilised as a society.
    (pieholes – is a 7 letter word in case you were wondering)

  • Thanks Ferial, I get extremely angry and “lose it”, when I read all the current affair articles from DM (fantastic work, to all you journalists). I feel sorry for my wife as she is the only sounding board I have preventing me from getting into “trouble”. Sounds like the old Apartheid days where you had to be careful as to what you say!
    I wrote a 4-page summary of my perspective of “The Hope for Africa” after reading foreign journalists’ summary of what was happening in 2017, my summary of what I experience, sadly remains the same. There is no hope, please prove me wrong!

  • I just cannot see how the perps will be arrested and prosecuted, especially the heads, many of whom are in provincial & local government, and even in Cabinet. This will have to be the first job of the new SA government.

  • Even as I read this now, I am still shocked, dismayed, distressed and angry at the wanton looting and destruction and the resulting loss of life and livelihoods which was allegedly orchestrated and/or supported by certain “comrades” and “tenderpreneurs” (two dirty words now part of our local lexicon) for both personal and political gain in the ANC… there is no way to paint this in any shade of rosy hue, it was an attack on our democracy!!
    The most severe punishment should be meted out to all who were involved, without fear or favour!
    President Ramaphosa you were nominated by the ANC, but you took the oath to be President of the entire South African nation, not just the conflicted and corrupt ANC, so in biblical terms please strike your staff and let’s see this rock split asunder so that we may continue on our democratic nation building journey!

  • Surely, if the ANC is to garner any shred of credibility, is it not time to immediately round up these so called instigators and imprison them on charges of treason, insurrection and murder. Suggest bail at R100,000 each and tie them up in court for years if necessary. We’ll find the evidence for sure… Where exactly did Cyril leave his balls?

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