The government was warned about the July 2021 riots months in advance. They didn’t listen. Daily Maverick spoke to several sources with ties to the State Security Agency, Police Crime Intelligence, the military and the Hawks. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of their positions. They predict a terrifying scenario: a repeat insurrection, likely driven by the pro-Zuma RET faction and marked by guerilla-style sabotage. The aim: to keep Jacob Zuma — and his allies implicated in the State Capture inquiry — out of jail.
Then and now: Daily Maverick returned to some of the shopping malls that were in the eye of the storm during the July riots that shook KwaZulu-Natal last year. The initial trigger for the violent upheaval that ensued was the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma exactly one year ago – on the evening of 7 July, 2021 . He had been sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court.
The small business owners that Daily Maverick spoke to said the latest figures ‘seem more believable’ than those previously released, which had placed the damage at R20bn in eThekwini and KZN, and about R50bn nationally.
In the vacuum of leadership created by the July 2021 riots, two significant things have happened: Lower middle-class and middle-class communities in eThekwini have become better organised in their daily battles against crime — including being prepared for the possibility that widespread unrest will happen again — and have turned to technology for reliable assistance.
Two men believe their wives’ bodies are buried beneath the rubble of Tembisa Plaza following the 2021 unrest in Gauteng. All they want is to retrieve them and give them a decent burial.
Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi says social media fuelled the fire of last year’s July riots and Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, who stirred the pot, should have faced consequences. The provincial police chief proposed shutting down social media but his superiors thought he was ‘mad’.
It was eight days of unprecedented looting and arson, which started on the night of 8 July 2021. Once the smoke subsided, at least 281 dead bodies counted and the trauma settled, the South African fiscus was R50-billion poorer and the event was named as one of the contributory factors to the shrinking of the economy by 1.5%.
Cyril Ramaphosa: ‘Attempted July insurrection’ left two million jobless and wiped R50bn from the economy
The President admitted that the state had failed to quash the unrest, but reiterated his ‘attempted insurrection’ stance at the South African Human Rights Commission’s hearings into the deadly July 2021 riots.
In recent days, former president Jacob Zuma’s daughter Dudu Zuma-Sambudla has been tweeting in support of ‘another unrest’ — like the one that followed her father’s arrest in July 2021. How can anyone who knows what happened last year possibly be calling for a repeat of the three deadliest days in South Africa’s democratic history?
There were warning signs of brewing unrest ahead of July riots, says Cele, distancing himself from SAPS response
Returning to the SA Human Rights Commission hearings, Police Minister Bheki Cele said he had received informal intelligence from ‘Good Samaritans’ that unrest was brewing ahead of the July 2021 riots. He claimed he received no reports from Crime Intelligence ahead of the widespread violence.
Presidential panel report rips into state’s ‘unequivocal’ failure to protect its people during looting mayhem
The report on the July 2021 civil unrest, released by the Presidency in February, paints a damning picture of the state’s inability to safeguard the nation and its people.
The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster has pledged more arrests in the cases of those who were involved in riots that shook the country a year ago.