Nearly 3 months after July riots, SA still in dark over true cause of violence

Three months after the looters went on the rampage damaging infrastructure, disrupting food production and threatening water security, only seven suspected instigators have been arrested.

People stand near the looted and vandalised Lotsoho Mall in Katlehong township, east of Johannesburg, on 12 July 2021. Several shops are damaged and cars burnt in Johannesburg following a night of violence. Police are on the scene trying to control further protests. It is unclear if this is linked to sporadic protests following the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - As businesses continue to rebuild with multi-million rand grants established by government to help them recover from the July anarchy, the country is still largely in the dark about the true cause of the violence.

Three months after the looters went on the rampage damaging infrastructure, disrupting food production and threatening water security, only seven suspected instigators have been arrested.

In the days after the anarchy, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the violence and looting was orchestrated by individuals seeking to destroy the constitutional order in the country on the "pretext of a political grievance".

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Despite early days of ignorance in government circles, a narrative began to form suggesting that those in power were aware of the real motives.

Last month, the president approved the terms of reference of the expert panel which has been appointed to probe the violence and security lapses during the July events.

In the meantime, though, the Hawks’ Katlego Mohale said that they were looking into seven suspects who were arrested for allegedly instigating the violence.

"Those that were being handled by the Hawks, we were tasked to look through those cases in order to assists the SAPS as well in properly tracing and investigation tracing them because that was information on social media and as you know it is very easy to delete an account when they're on social media, so we were running against time."

President Ramaphosa has insisted that the July anarchy was a deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack on the country’s democracy and he promised that arrests and prosecutions would be carried out.

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