KZN govt leaders were nowhere to be found during July unrest, SAHRC hears

S’bu Zikode of Abahlali baseMjondolo said they tried to get hold of them but to no avail.

The South African Human Rights Commission hears evidence on the July riots at the Durban International Convention Centre on 16 November 2021. Picture: @SAHRCommission/Twitter

DURBAN - The leader of a shack dwellers movement has told the inquiry probing the July unrest that leaders of the KwaZulu-Natal government were nowhere to be found during the unrest.

S’bu Zikode of Abahlali baseMjondolo said they tried to get hold of them but to no avail.

Zikode testified at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)’s inquiry sitting in Umhlanga.

He spoke in his capacity as a leader representing underprivileged communities.

Zikode has told the commissioners that he only realised how serious the July unrest was after social media posts suggesting that the home of Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo would be targeted.

He said right there and then, he tried reaching out to KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala.

But he said his attempts were futile: “I thought, as a citizen, I have a duty as well to assist and give the necessary information for the authorities to act, only to find that there was a leadership vacuum. No one wanted to take any responsibility for anything that was happening.”

On Friday, Zikalala told the inquiry that law enforcement agencies lacked resources to handle the unrest situation.

Zikode said the unrest was also triggered by anger from community members.