Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed on Friday that 19 people have been arrested for incitement to commit public violence during the 2021 July unrest, with 86 more people on the radar of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI).
In July last year, chaos broke out in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng when former President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment for being in contempt of court. The unrest claimed over 354 lives.
The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster held a briefing in Pretoria to update the nation on the investigations. In attendance were Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola and Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise.
Cele said the South African Police Service (Saps) had increased collaboration with other structures, highlighting that over 8 000 incidents during the 2021 July unrest were reported to the police and at least 5 000 people were arrested.
“There are 19 people that have been arrested on this issue…the DPCI is putting an eye on 86 more people on this matter but there are 19 that will be regarded as instigators. Eight are arrested by the DPCI and 11 are arrested by the detective team that was put together. So there are 19, they remain as 19, two of the cases have been withdrawn and almost all of them are on bail,” he said.
Cele stated that once a person was on bail, it means there is a case to answer. “The fact that they are on bail, the fact that they are in court means the thing [case] is progressing,” he said.
Modise said the Saps and the DPCI were still investigating crimes that were committed and were building cases against those who were arrested.
More than 3 300 cases had been finalised, so far, through non-prosecution, some withdrawn. Over 2 900 cases were closed as undetected or unfounded.
“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 Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision of 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,” she explained.
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.
Meanwhile, Modise said the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would continue to be on standby, in support of the Saps, to protect all national key points, as well as economic corridors, from any disruption or blockages.
This was in line with the constitutional mandate of the SANDF to intervene when called on by any State institution to ensure that the safety of the people and infrastructure was protected and secure, she added.
The JCPS Cluster Ministers said they were engaging other countries, which had state-of-the-art criminal justice systems 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,” the Cluster said.
The JCPS Cluster Ministers urged members of the community to pass on relevant information that could assist the Cluster to fight crime and violence, also urging members of the community not to spread harmful and false information on social media platforms.