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Instigators will be arrested soon, says Cele

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The names of three alleged instigators who were involved in encouraging widespread looting and violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng could be revealed on Monday, said Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi/ANA

THE NAMES of three alleged instigators who were involved in encouraging widespread looting and violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng could be revealed on Monday, said Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Cele has been visiting several KwaZulu-Natal communities to bring about peace and stability.

Previously, Cele had said 12 people were found to have instigated the looting. He said that there were other names given to security forces, but he could not name them until they were arrested and appeared in court. “But 12 people were found to have instigated the looting,” he said.

Cele said police were prepared to thwart any protests when former president Jacob Zuma appears in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, either physically or virtually, on Monday. Zuma is facing a corruption trial emanating from the arms deal procurement, between 1998 and 1999, where the former head of state is facing 18 charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Former head of counter-intelligence at the State Security Agency (SSA), and SA ambassador to Japan, Thulani Dlomo, reportedly met police top brass at Durban Central police station with his lawyer. It was alleged that he may have been one of the 12 masterminds behind the violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. On Friday night, Dhlomo left the station without being charged and has denied the allegations against him.

Regarding voice notes and messages circulating about an alleged shutdown on Monday, Cele said: “There is propaganda and false news on social media regarding future protests. Police are ready.”

He said police were patrolling the national highways to ensure the supply of goods continued uninterrupted. He also sent out a strong message while in Sea Cow Lake on Sunday for people to keep proof of payment for goods in their home because police were expected to begin recovering goods looted from several shops and warehouses in Durban from Tuesday. The police operation had already begun in Gauteng.

Cele said that by talking to the communities, police were trying to stop any fallout that could arise from the incidents, including attacks based on racial profiling.

He said police received a roasting from communities when they were told to hand over looted goods. He said the process was going well in Gauteng and would follow suit in Durban.

“People cannot go out and loot, and expect life to be normal. It also sends a message to aspirant looters to refrain from such activities. We will come and get the goods back,” said Cele.

According to national police spokesperson, Colonel Brenda Muridili, 92 KZN suspects had been arrested over the weekend for being in possession of stolen property. “By this morning (on Sunday), a total of 3,407 suspects had been arrested on various charges since the violence erupted over a week ago, with only one suspect granted bail and 1,122 are expected to appear in different courts in the two most affected provinces, and the remaining dockets are under investigation,” she said.

On Sunday, representatives from Sea Cow Lake, Kenville, Avoca and Effingham met with Cele. These areas border industrial areas such as Briardene, Riverhorse Valley and Springfield Business Park. The area was littered with broken trolleys and damaged goods. Community leader Siphelele Mbili called for all racial groups to work together. He called for barricades to be removed and racial profiling of residents entering other areas to stop.

He told Cele that the community, which has vast informal settlements, was struggling with unemployment and hunger. Greenwood Park resident Frank Dunn said some patrollers had undergone 18-hour shifts to protect the community. He said in some roadblocks, he was asked to produce a driver’s licence or identification document to pass through.

Cele said a team of 10 detectives was assembled to investigate the deaths of 20 people who were killed in Phoenix. He said 80 public order police officers were deployed to assist local police and work together with the SANDF to keep all residents and property safe. Cele urged residents of Phoenix and neighbouring settlements of Bhambayi, Amaoti and Zwelisha to form a peace committee to rebuild the broken community relations.

Since the outbreak of this violence, at least 212 people have lost their lives – 180 in KZN and 32 in Gauteng. Police were investigating 131 cases of murder and have opened 81 inquest dockets. The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS) has recorded more than 118 incidents of public violence, arson, looting and other unrest-related instances.

Damage has been caused to 161 malls and shopping centres, 11 warehouses, eight factories, and 161 liquor outlets and distributors.

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