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Leisurely police response time to looting and violence carries an inkling of a covert coup d’état


Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views.

The delayed police response to this week’s sporadic looting and violence appears intentional. It appears as if internal police management’s aim was to undermine the state and the confidence of the people in the capacity of the state.

Are the police not supposed to maintain law and order?

When Dobsonville Mall was looted less than a kilometre away from the police station, did the police not see that the mall was being looted? When Jabulani Mall was looted less than 200m away from the Jabulani Police Station, could it mean the police did not see? Or did they not have the resources to prevent the looting?

And when the Diepkloof mall was looted a kilometre away from the police station? Or when the Meadowlands mall was looted near the Meadowlands Police Station? Were the police sleeping? Unfortunately, ten people died in the stampede at the Meadowlands mall, tragic indeed.

Where is the prompt response of the South African police? What happened to mall securities? The Alex Mall was looted a stone’s throw from the magistrates’ court. Is the furniture in the magistrates’ court still safe or was it also looted? What happened to the station commanders of these police stations? Were they waiting for instructions from the national commissioner of police Khehla Sitole or were they waiting for the instructions of Bheki Cele, the minister of police?

What is apparent is that the police take so long to respond as if it is per plan that looters must loot everything before they arrive at the crime scene. It appears like it is internal police management’s plan to sabotage and undermine the state and the confidence of the people in the capacity of the state.

The paralysis of the police services can only indicate that police management is still captured by those deployed by the Guptas and Watsons. This appears more like an attempted coup d’etat, planned and orchestrated by suspected senior executive officers in conjunction with some ANC leaders — the supporters of former president Zuma. A thorough investigation is now required. This is part of Radical Economic Transformation-initiated riots and looting as a reaction to the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma.

The arrest of former president Zuma — the man who looted the state and government resources with the Guptas and Watsons — is now being used to initiate the looting by the poor. The poor will be much, much worse off.

Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Roots Butchery, Game and Makro are some of the retail shops and businesses that have been looted in these malls. The employees of these businesses will now be without employment. These businesses are now likely to retrench most of their employees who will then join the army of the unemployed, estimated to be 75% of the youth of South Africa. Thanks to the Zuma uprising, this temporary looting of the groceries and other goods, with its destruction of malls, will have a long-term negative impact on the wellbeing of the very families who looted, as well as on the economy. Cutting off your nose to spite your face, as they say. 

Most of the businesses looted in Soweto, Alexandra, Vosloorus, and Diepsloot are franchises owned by black Africans. So the actual losers are black Africans. The employees of these businesses are mostly black Africans, who will now most likely be unemployed. The costs of looting to demand the release of Zuma from prison is most heavy on black Africans — the real victims of Zuma’s looting of the state.

Poor black people will be all the worse off. 

Police management should have done better. The smouldering of fires around Nkandla in the period leading up to the arrest of former president Zuma gave enough warnings for security cluster ministers to make preparations. The inflammatory speeches of Ace Magashule, Tony Yengeni and Carl Niehaus at Nkandla have provided enough signals for the security cluster to prepare. 

There is a serious question that the government must answer: was there an orchestrated plan by senior security officers in the security cluster and ANC leaders to undermine the rule of President Cyril Ramaphosa?

Was this an attempted coup d’état? DM


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All Comments 8

  • Great article. The security forces have a lot to answer too. Too often we’ve been told that the SAPS are monitoring the situation. We looking for action, not observation

  • I’m going to save this script to read in ten years. Meanwhile in other news,our glorious people across every aspect of nomenclature are coming together to repair and heal. We are a great nation when we stand together

  • Absolutely. The police were either totally absent, holed up a few kms down the road, or just standing by watching.

    This gave the looters carte blanche. There was one incredible scene of a traffic jam of looters a few km long, stuck in their trucks on the way to loot some warehouses. There was zero police presence, but the media was all over it.

    When we did see the police it was after a place had been looted and there was nothing left. They had come to guard the empty shelves and the smouldering hulk.

    Also, this was day 2 or 3 into the looting. Not like we didn’t know what was going on, or had no time to prepare.

    It was sinister to watch, because we are used to seeing Cele arresting beach goers for not wearing a mask.

  • Excellent article,

    the lacklustre response might not have been the cause but it’s certainly correlated to how these spread so quickly.

    It seems as South Africans we will be spending more money on another commission of enquiry.

  • The security cluster and in particular SAPS have been way behind the looting curve for a long time. Just go look at the rail infrastructure that has been looted between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Police stations are located within 1 km of most of the looted sites. No action by SAPS. At the Cleveland railway station the police station is less than 500 meters away. The station buildings and overhead power lines were first looted. This was made public. Some weeks later the railway lines at the Cleveland station have been looted. This in the face of SAPS. No action. I think SAPS has been participating in a long planned coup to unseat Cyril by allowing the destruction of key infrastructure that eventually will drive the masses to revolt as supply chains and services fail. Cele and Sithole have a lot to answer for. It is perplexing that Cyril has not yet acted by holding SAPS leadership accountable for failing to protect property and citizens.

    • The senior SAPS people are eyeball deep in everything related to organised crime, political maneuvering and crimes related to treason and insurrection.

  • A concerning insight. Regrettably, this is reinforced by the abysmal tactics displayed by the police even once they decided to deploy.

    Where was the water cannons? Where was the tear gas? Why were helicopters or drones used to monitor the areas of unrest and deploy armoured vehicles to cordon off the few access points that lead to these points, or throw up a razor wire cordon around these areas?

    Lack of equipment?

    Lack of leadership?

    Lack of will?

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