Inquiry into causes of July unrest and its aftermath amid policing lapses
An investigative hearing into the unrest and looting which swept across KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng between July 8 and 19 begins on Monday, led by a panel of commissioners from the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
The rioting and looting was characterised by the loss of life and targeting of retail centres, malls, shops and other businesses, schools and transport systems. Damage emerging from claims being dealt with by the state insurance company Sasria amount to R25bn.
The SAHRC said: “The unrest has indeed deepened unemployment, poverty and rampant socio-economic inequality within SA. The unrest accordingly exacerbated, among other things, inequality between certain communities, unemployment levels, poverty, hunger and food insecurity.
“Also of concern to the commission are reports that as many communities took to the streets to protect their neighbourhoods and businesses, allegations surfaced of the excessive use of force, racial profiling, assaults, arson and killings in some places.”
The inquiry will address suggestions that the unrest and looting were orchestrated, that there was a high degree of organisation and instigation that led to the unrest and that the authorities ought to have known and adequately prepared to secure the towns and cities affected.
Panel members are commissioners André Gaum, Chris Nissen and Philile Ntuli.
The panel will inquire into, make findings, report on and make recommendations on:
- the causes of the July unrest;
- the alleged racially motivated attacks and killings following the unrest;
- apparent lapses in law enforcement by state security agencies, particularly the police, and the role of private security companies in the unrest; and
- the social, economic, spatial and political factors prevalent in the affected areas and the extent to which these played a role in the unrest.
The hearing is set down for three weeks.