A recipe for the perfect riot: Intelligence community under scrutiny

Is there a recipe for the perfect riot? According to former intelligence operative Llyod Mhlanga there is. One can produce a detailed plan on where to organise and who to recruit and deploy to agitate across different communities.

SANDF and SAPS members question suspected looters in Alexandra on 13 July 2021. Picture: @GovernmentZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - As the Democratic Alliance (DA) prepares to lay charges against those it believes instigated a wave of violence and looting, a former state security advisor said those who encouraged the violence should have known how quickly it could get out of control.

On Tuesday, Lloyd Mhlanga said those who encouraged the initial action were doing so to ladle on the political pressure following Jacob Zuma's incarceration.

But before long, that fueled an existing fire that led to looting, destruction and violence that will cost the country billions.

WATCH: Cele: Instigators of the looting are known and will be arrested

As of 14 July 2021, violence in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape has seen 72 killed. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

Amid criticism that South Africa's intelligence community was asleep at the wheel, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo defended the country’s intelligence services, saying they had done their job, handing over information to the police.

Is there a recipe for the perfect riot? Mhlanga there is. One can produce a detailed plan on where to organise and who to recruit and deploy to agitate across different communities.

But he said in this case, what was meant to be used as a bargaining chip, found purchase in an already frustrated population.

“There is so much poverty, there is so much unemployment. I mean, when people look at that and they look at the inequality of the distribution of the wealth, they get easily agitated,” Mhlanga said.

And while the government insisted the intelligence community had done its work, saying the situation could have been worse without the work of State Security Agency, Mhlanga said they did not have the strong analytical capacity needed to curb the wide-scale looting.

“That’s the situation, you need to go and do environmental scanning. Got to the volatile areas,” he added.

He said while the army was on the streets dealing with immediate threats, what the nation really needed to focus on was to be extricating itself from the situation quickly, strengthening the country's intelligence capacity.

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