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Intelligence got knocked out, plus five highlights from ‘Vrye Weekblad’

Here’s what’s hot in the latest edition of the Afrikaans digital weekly

23 July 2021 - 06:49
A member of a hazardous waste cleanup crew walks to clean up a warehouse burnt during the looting in Durban on July 17.
A member of a hazardous waste cleanup crew walks to clean up a warehouse burnt during the looting in Durban on July 17.
Image: Reuters/Rogan Ward

The run-up to the violence in KZN and Gauteng was possible the lowest point that the security cluster had to reach to lay bare the weaknesses caused by years of political interference. Somebody needs to admit that, and get working on fixing it. 

Who in the security cluster knew the riots were being planned? What were the ministers' roles in the lead-up to the riots, during the events, and now that things have calmed down?

Vrye Weekblad spoke to experts about the problems and possible solutions. 

Risk analyst Dr Nel Marais says: “If there was any possibility of the state being overthrown, state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo would have gone straight to President Cyril Ramaphosa to warn him. Did that happen? And then there is the issue, given the division in the ruling party, that the picture might not have been properly analysed and described to give direction to the police and army.

“There were obvious gaps on intelligence level [in the inadequate response of three departments] which meant nobody believed masses of people would spontaneously join in,” he tells Erika Gibson in this week's edition of Vrye Weekblad

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Willem Els, senior analyst at the Institute for Security Studies, doesn't hold back.

“Incompetent people have been appointed in positions where they have to make decisions and do planning and they simply don't have the ability to do what is expected of them. The gradual dismantling of authority and capacity has now led to a uniform collapse of the security apparatus.”

A SANDF general who was until recently involved in operational planning with the police, says the SAPS is its own worst enemy due to weak leadership and a lack of strategic and tactical insight. They are further hampered by bad logistics management, which last week led to police officers being without enough of the right kind of weapons and ammunition.     

“There are just no contingency plans in the security cluster to handle attacks on the scale of Mumbai in 2008 or the mall siege in Nairobi in 2013, or to deal with any urban disasters,” says another expert.

So now that we know where the weaknesses lie, we need a long, hard reflection to start – as soon as the ministers stop falling over their feet and their words.  

Must-read articles in this week’s Vrye Weekblad

THE WEEK IN POLITICS | Max du Preez is suspicious about a possible Russian connection to the Zuma riots. He wonders how our deputy president is doing in his roskoshnaya villa, and he looks at Fikile Mbalula and Ernst Roets' international TV interviews.

FREE TO READ – GETTING THINGS DONE | We never thought we'd hear the tannies from the suburbs refer to “our taxi drivers”, but the violence and looting have created new allies and got people to work together. 

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A COVID DOCTOR  | We keep reading about the pressure this virus has put our medical workers under, but do we really understand what it's like? What this pandemic is doing to them? 

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE?  | After an exhausting week fighting on the front lines against the counter-revolutionaries, resident satirist C Louise Kortenhoven and her emergency response team were looking forward to a weekend of rest. But that's not how it turned out ... 

XMAS IN JULY | Until the end of July, you can get 30% off a Vrye Weekblad subscription. This means a subscription is only R72 per month, or R64 if you are a pensioner.