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Security forces should be in place when Jacob Zuma returns to court, says DA

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DA MP Kobus Marais says security forces should be on standby should there be any threat of insurrection when former president Jacob Zuma returns to court next week.

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cape Town – DA MP Kobus Marais says security forces should be on standby should there be any threat of insurrection when former president Jacob Zuma returns to court next week.

The opposition party held a briefing on Monday on their expectations for the parliamentary inquiry into the riots that took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng recently.

Zuma’s fraud and corruption case at the Pietermaritzburg High Court has been postponed to Tuesday, August 10.

Shortly after Zuma’s arrest, days of deadly and violent looting broke out in KZN and spread to Gauteng.

Police Minister Bheki Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo were criticised for their failure to respond to the unrest speedily.

Now calls are mounting for Cele and Dlodlo to be brought to book in a parliamentary inquiry as the two had contradictory versions as to why their departments failed to respond effectively. The SANDF was deployed to both provinces to assist the police.

Owing to procedural issues, the inquiry could not start last week as intended.

In Monday’s virtual briefing, the opposition party’s shadow minister of state security, Dianne Kohler Barnard, said any opportunity for a cover-up, or even the perception of a cover-up, must be removed entirely. She called for complete transparency with the setting up of the ad hoc committee.

“We expect the three ministers of the security cluster, Police Minister Bheki Cele, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to be removed if the inquiry finds that they did indeed mislead the country regarding the insurrection; and the ‘redacted’ intelligence reports must be made public. Residents in KZN and Gauteng deserve the full truth of why their lives and livelihoods were torn apart.”

The party also suggests that a formula be found to reduce the number of ad hoc committee members to a manageable size as convening a meeting with all the necessary role-players including the portfolio committees in the National Assembly for police, justice and correctional services, and defence and military veterans, as well as the joint standing committees of defence and of intelligence, and the select committee for security and justice of the National Council of Provinces would make it difficult to engage in the sort of cross-questioning that is necessary in such an inquiry.

Kohler-Barnard added that the inquiry could not be led by the parliamentary committee on police, or its chairperson, Tina Joemat-Pettersson. “The DA suggests that the credibility of the inquiry would be enhanced if both of the chairpersons of the ad hoc committee were drawn from the ranks of the opposition parties, and it is further suggested, in the interests of transparency, that the lead is taken by the justice committee.”

Ahead of Zuma’s return to court, Marais said he was sure there would be sufficient security presence at the court and at certain strategic points should there be any threat of violence.

“We have seen that the presence of the defence force has made a significant impact on what has transpired on the ground. Any effort of unruly behaviour or insurrection will be combated by the defence force, and hopefully the police as well,” he said.

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