High-ranking members of the ANC’s national executive committee, a former mayor in KwaZulu-Natal, a Mpumalanga ANC leader and a former radio presenter are among those named as suspected instigators of the violence that swept through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Sunday World reports that an unrest report is circulating among ANC and government leaders and it forms part of the South African Police Service (SAPS) investigation into the large-scale looting of malls and burning of factories, during what has been described as the country’s worst unrest which has leftover 200 people dead and the destruction of property running into billions of rand.
According to the report, a plan was hatched on July 4 in KwaZulu- Natal to render the country ungovernable as part of a campaign to force the government to free former president Jacob Zuma, who is serving a 15-month jail term at Estcourt Correctional Centre for contempt of court.
A high-ranking ANC leader is said to have given instructions to his supporters to burn all trucks on the N2, N3 and other major regional roads “to block all roads leading to the Durban and Richard’s Bay harbour; to loot all shopping malls and warehouses and to use lethal force when fired upon by the armed forces”.
The house of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, whose legal action led to Zuma’s arrest, was also a target, along with the blocking of all roads leading to Estcourt Correctional Services facility.
The mobs were also instructed to “bring all economic activity in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to a halt” and “agitate the unemployed, street kids, criminals and thugs” to render the country ungovernable until the leader becomes president of the country.
The status of the report appears to be under scrutiny. A female cabinet minister has denounced it as the work of information peddlers while her cabinet counterpart said the report was serious enough not to be dismissed.
On Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was clear that the events of the past week were nothing less than a deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack on the country’s democracy.
“The constitutional order of our country is under threat. The current instability and ongoing incitement of violence constitute a direct contravention of the constitution and the rule of law. These actions are intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken – or even dislodge – the democratic state,” he said.
According to preliminary reports compiled by the national joint operational and intelligence structure, extensive damage was caused to 161 malls and shopping centres, 11 warehouses, eight factories and 161 liquor outlets and distributors.
Over 2 550 people have been arrested in connection with the unrest, while 212 people died. Ramaphosa further said that the chaos was used as a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage.
He conceded that the government had been poorly prepared and did not have the capabilities and plans in place to act swiftly and decisively.
A source in the security cluster said police were targeting elements in the taxi industry and hostel dwellers in their crackdown on those behind the unrest. Divisions in the country’s security apparatus emanating from the ANC factional battles, lack of timeous intelligence and deployment of law-enforcement agencies were some of the issues blamed on the poor response to the unrest, sources inside government and the ANC said.