Ramaphosa releases expert panel report into July unrest

Ramaphosa releases expert panel report into July unrest

President Cyril Ramaphosa has released the expert panel report into the 2021 July civil unrest.

This aerial view taken on July 15, 2021, shows fire gutted at the Game store in Queen Nandi Drive in Durban. The businesses were hit by looters on July 13, despite the troops President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed to try to quell unrest. As pillaging erupted
STRINGER / AFP

The highly anticipated report comes seven months after a turbulent week when the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were compounded by unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Warehouses, malls, retail shops and factories went up in flames when disgruntled citizens took to the streets in what government has categorised as an attempted insurrection.

Shelves were emptied while some major roads were blockaded, brining operations and economic activity in both provinces to a grinding halt.

More than 350 people died.

On Monday, a 154-page report made damning findings - at the core of it an intelligence structure that failed to prevent the catastrophic events.

Last year, Ramaphosa appointed a task team to investigate the causes of the violence that gripped the nation for close to a week.

High levels of unemployment and poverty, the unprecedented inequality in the country, the phenomenon of state capture and the frustrations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic were found to have all ignited the July riots.

Evidence shows that the unrest was organised at the country's infamous hostels, while opportunistic looting had also taken place.

Church leaders were informed by community members about the impending attack, while instigators were seen on security cameras moving around from mall to mall planning their attacks.

The report found that the National Security Council had not received any clear or direct intelligence about the violence prior to it happening.

More worrisome was that the looters continued to use the same modus operandi for the next 7 days or so, without the police changing their plans to counter the attacks.

The task team found that the state failed to protect life, limb and property.

Adding to that, the executive shoulders some of the blame and should take responsibility for its lapse in leadership.

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In a nutshell, the report found Minister of Police Bheki Cele and the National Commissioner Khehla Sitole are poles apart in their interpretation of how the events of July could have been managed, if at all.

"It must be said that the Minister of Police was scathing in his criticism of the SAPS. In his opinion, taking into account the SAPS organizational system and architecture, SAPS had the operational and infrastructural systems and architecture to have adequately responded to and risen to the challenge posed by these attacks. These include the National Intervention, Special Task Force, Public Order Policing, and Mobile Operations units (tactical teams) which respond to and stabilise medium to high-risk incidents to ensure that normal policing continues," the report reads.

"In his opinion, the tactical teams could have assisted police stations as part of the operational plan on the instructions of the National Commissioner. In addition, the Minister believes that the lack of a proactive intelligence gathering system, proper planning, coordination and communication by SAPS Top Management and its Command Structures prevented SAPS from being as prepared as necessary for the violence when it broke out and adapting its plans to meet the changing tactics of the planners.

Meanwhile, Khehla believes that he was best placed to coordinate all responses from a national operations centre.

"This is a matter of concern, as it narrows the grounds for consensus within the senior leadership of the police on what needs to be corrected going forward, and of who is to be held accountable for the failure to prevent the loss of life and the destruction of property that occurred," the report adds.

The task team has recommended that the capacity of the country's security cluster be strengthened - including using all lawful avenues available to them such as intercepting communications when the security of the state is at stake.

Ramaphosa's cabinet has been advised to be better coordinated and aligned.

The task team found that the factions within the ANC are negatively affecting governance matters and need to be resolved.

Most important of all, government, at all levels, must seriously attend to the socio-economic challenges facing the country.

Read full report below:

Ramaphosa releases expert panel report into July unrest by Jacaranda FM News on Scribd

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