Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster briefing update on the interventions of the July 2021 unrest

8 July 2022

Members of the media;
Ladies and gentlemen;

From the 9th to the 18th of July last year, South Africans experienced the most violent civil unrest in the democratic era, which left in its wake over 354 people dead. These are not mere numbers, but precious lives lost. Our hearts go out to the families that lost their loved ones and to the thousands who were injured. It is in their memory and honour that we stand before you this morning, as JCPS Ministers, to make a solemn commitment that our country should not be subjected to the level of anarchy and destruction we witnessed last year in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. 

Working together with all South Africans, we are determined not to allow this tragic episode, which was characterised by widespread looting, wanton destruction of public and private infrastructure, as well as disruptions to economic activity, to repeat itself. We continue to strongly condemn the criminality that characterised this unrest. The pain and distress caused to many citizens remains fresh in our collective memory.

Now that a year has passed it is time for reflection and an update on the progress we have made in implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel led by Professor Sandy Africa appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

The Expert Panel has highlighted the following weaknesses in the Justice and Security system: The failure of the country’s State institutions to conduct timely risk assessments, the inability of these institutions to forewarn the police and government of the impending violence, the lack of capacity of the police officers to stop and contain the rioting and looting and the lack of capacity within the SAPS to control the huge crowds, which took part in the public violence and looting. 

A number of recommendations stem from these findings; such as strengthening the capacity of law enforcement agencies to respond to all situations, reviving the functioning of the National Security Council, strengthening community policing forums, establishing partnerships between the public and the police and establishing social cohesion and support programmes. Over the past year the JCPS Cluster has worked tirelessly to ensure that such incidents are avoided.

The South African Police Service (SAPS)
SAPS and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) continue to work around the clock investigating the crimes that were committed and building cases against those who were arrested as a result of the July 2021 unrest. To this end, over 8 000 incidents were reported to the police and at least 5 000 people were arrested.

Cases under investigation include: incitement to commit public violence, murder, attempted murder, arson, malicious damage to property, possession of suspected stolen property, damage to infrastructure, and culpable homicide.

More than 3 300 cases have thus far been finalised through non-prosecution, with some being withdrawn in or before court. Over 2 900 cases were closed as undetected or unfounded.

There are 19 cases from which the DPCI is investigating eight (8) in relation to people who were arrested on suspicion of incitement to commit public violence. The investigation of about 2 200 cases is concluded pending a decision on the viability of the prosecution of the cases. A number of dockets have been referred to the Directors of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for a decision further guidance and direction on the matter. Over 2 435 cases are on the court roll with over 50 cases finalised with a guilty verdict.

In the township of Phoenix outside Durban, 164 cases were investigated, 120 are still under investigation with a total arrest of 69 suspects who were arrested for various crimes. 36 of these suspects were arrested for their alleged respective roles in the murder of 35 people, while 31 people have been arrested for attempted murder. 

The Division: Visible Policing is actively monitoring the revitalisation of Community Policing Forums (CPF) to further empower and maintain functional CPF structures at local policing precinct level. An additional budget has been allocated for this purpose with a specific focus on those CPF structures that still need support. 

To further capacitate the SAPS, the Basic Police Training and Development Programme for 10 000 trainees commenced in April 2022, after two years of no training due to the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In December these recruits will be deployed to various police stations to bolster the existing SAPS capacity. In responding effectively to public unrests, the capacitation of Public Order Policing has been prioritised. As a result Public Order Police will receive an additional 4 000 members during this financial year.  

Public Order Police members and frontline officers as first responders, are continuously undergoing refresher training courses in crowd control management. 

Extra funds have also been allocated in this operational environment for the modernisation of the unit, including procurement of armoured vehicles and aircrafts and further funding has been set aside for the procurement of protective gear for Public Order Police members.

It is worth mentioning that Police are mindful of emerging crime trends and are subsequently looking at equipping police members with specialised knowledge and skills to police and investigate, for example, cybercrime.

The NPA will provide further details on progress on prosecutions relating to the July unrest. 

State Security Agency (SSA)
Part of the recommendations by the expert panel were to develop and drive a national response plan to address the weaknesses that have been identified and to immediately fill critical vacancies and address positions affected by suspensions in the SSA and Crime Intelligence.

Qualified people have been appointed to leadership positions at the SSA to bring stability in the organisation. A full time Director General has been appointed and all Senior Management posts are now permanently filled. 

The General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill has been finalised and the roadmap for its submission to Parliament was presented to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. It is anticipated that this Bill will be submitted to Parliament in September 2022.

One of the critical issues that were identified was the centrality of NICOC in intelligence coordination and sharing, coupled with the need to get State departments and entities involved and to take serious, the early warning systems that NICOC provides through the National Intelligence Estimates (NIE)

Ongoing briefings and threat assessments are being shared with the Premiers to determine the necessary response plans.

Work is also ongoing in identifying and organising workshops with various individuals, experts and SOEs. To date, NICOC has met with ACSA on issues of aviation security and Eskom on issues of energy security.

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD)
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has initiated several interventions aimed at facilitating healing and reconciliation in the community of Phoenix. 

A number of Restorative Justice Community Dialogues have been hosted to engage affected communities and respond to the effects of the violent unrest. These Restorative Justice Community Dialogues brought together an inter-sectoral committee comprising of various government departments, entities, Chapter 9 institutions and other civil society formations and inter-faith leaders.

The critical intention of the dialogues was to create a space in which affected communities can be heard and their immediate needs addressed. The dialogues also provided an opportunity where affected communities could be educated on the constitutional values of human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism, the supremacy of the Constitution and the importance of upholding the rule of law.

In addition, the Department has conducted over 45 School Outreach initiatives to raise rights awareness to learners at high schools in and around Durban.

We will continue to work together towards rebuilding the trust of our communities. We strive to build the economy of our country by ensuring the safety and security of our people and by protecting our critical infrastructure.  

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the Department of Defence
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) stands ready to support law-enforcement agencies to deal with any threats to the security and stability of the country. The SANDF will continue to be on standby, in support of the South African Police Service, to protect all national key points as well as economic corridors of the country from any disruption or blockages. This is in line with the constitutional mandate of the SANDF to intervene when called upon by any state institution to ensure that the safety of our people and infrastructure is protected and secure. 

Furthermore, the SANDF will consider the acquisition of proper capabilities that will assist in dealing with incidents of this nature to allow for easy access to where there maybe challenges that require interventions. 

Conclusion

As the Ministers of the JCPS Cluster we understand that we still have a long way to go to bring the cluster to its optimal level. We are committed to do all we can to strengthen the criminal justice system as well as capacitate our personnel to serve our people better. 

We are also engaging other countries, which have state-of-the-art criminal justice system to share some of the good practices they employ. We will adapt our methods to make sure that we serve our country effectively. Over and above these measures, we call upon members of our community to join Community Policing Forums to fight crime and violence. 

We also call on members of the community to pass on relevant information that can assist us to fight crime and violence. Lastly, we ask members of the community not to spread harmful and false information on social media platforms. During the 2021 unrest, social media platforms were used to mobilise members of the community to participate in illegal activities. Before you share information on social media, please ensure that it is truthful and builds the nation.

I thank you.
    
Enquiries:  
Siphiwe Dlamini (Defence Spokesperson) on 083 410 1257

Year: 
2022
Media Statement date: 
Friday, July 8, 2022