EDITORIAL | The July unrest masterminds are hiding in plain sight

Police arrest looters on July 13, 2021 in Vosloorus.

Police arrest looters on July 13, 2021 in Vosloorus.
(Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

One year later, it is abundantly clear that the state has failed dismally to hold to account those who almost brought South Africa to its knees.

A year ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa went on live TV, flanked by the heads of the police and the defence force, and announced that South Africa was the victim of a failed insurrection.

An insurrection is a nice word for a coup d’état. What Ramaphosa was effectively telling us was that people were attempting to overthrow the government. This is serious stuff and you would have expected the state to throw everything at its efforts to get the perpetrators behind bars.

This didn’t happen. Instead, some auxiliary figures, like a hateful radio DJ and a crude local councillor, were arrested, and their arrests will be trumpeted by the government as successes of their attempts to find the instigators of the violence that left 354 people dead.

A News24 investigation could find only three murder trials.

SPECIAL PROJECT | One year later: No justice after July unrest that shook SA

The real masterminds of the violence are at large and hiding in plain sight.

Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, former president Jacob Zuma’s daughter, is a case in point. From the comfort of her father’s state-sponsored abode in Nkandla, she tweeted hateful messages and images in the days leading up to the July unrest and continues to do so. Yet, there have been no consequences.

Our battered intelligence services already knew of the involvement of former State Security Agency (SSA) operatives last year, yet they remain untouched.

The Hawks have been investigating prominent ANC politicians and businesspeople for months. They include a prominent former Gauteng mayor, ministers and former premiers. Yet, there have been no arrests.

It raises this uncomfortable question: why isn’t the state arresting the real instigators of the “failed insurrection”? Is there, yet again, political meddling in the affairs of our law enforcement agencies, as happened during the Zuma era? Is the price too high for the ANC to arrest its own and admit the enemy is within, rather than some outside third force?

There should be zero tolerance for political meddling at the police, the Hawks included, and the National Prosecuting Authority. The country is looking to advocate Shamila Batohi and General Fannie Masemola to do the right thing – soon.