SAPS role in civil unrest to come under the spotlight


Parliament has requested that the Portfolio Committee on Police (PCOP), in collaboration with the Select Committee on Justice and Security, conduct an oversight report of the SAPS during the violence and unrest in KZN and Gauteng in July 2021 after Parliament found the security cluster was totally unprepared.

The committees will enquire into, report on and make recommendations on how prepared, capable and effective the South African Police Service (SAPS) was at handling the unrest.

The committees have proposed the terms of reference of inquiry and said they will establish what information was available to the security agencies prior to, during and after the violence; how the violence unfolded and was allowed to spread; how police officers in both Metro Police and the SAPS participated in the looting and what consequences they face; what resources, equipment and staff were available before and during the unrest; what leadership was given to all law enforcement agencies during the violence; whether the violence was organised, what role the instigators played, what happened to them and if they have been arrested and charged; how co-operative law enforcement agencies were with one another; and the impact of the unrest on communities.

The committees will lastly give this report to the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The proposed ‘terms of refence’ will be processed from 24 August to mid-September. The report that is going to include participation from civil society, will be a major document in uncovering how prepared and capable the KZN and Gauteng SAPS were in handling the violence and looting.

On 10 July 2021, widespread looting erupted in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) which spread to Gauteng. The N3 national highway linking Durban to Johannesburg was blockaded on the same day and it led to over 30 trucks being burnt. The economic damage is estimated to be from R20 billion to R50 billion, with over 40 000 businesses affected. 337 people died as a result of the violence.

The initiative to call for an inquiry into the wide-spread looting and violence was led by House Chairperson, Cedric Frolick and the Democratic Alliance (DA) expects the two Ministers of the security cluster, Police Minister Bheki Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, to be removed if they misled the country regarding the insurrection.

A Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence inquiry to establish how poorly South Africa was served by its intelligence services ahead of the unrest has been approved by Parliament.