LISTEN | July riots were an insurrection and took months of planning, says business representative
'This is not something that happened organically — it was too well planned,' says Pietermaritzburg & Midlands Chamber of Business CEO
The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hearing on the July unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng resumed in Umhlanga, north of Durban, on Thursday.
Pietermaritzburg & Midlands Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness was the first witness. The chamber represents about 700 private sector businesses.
She told the hearing that the July riots were a planned attempt to overthrow the government.
“The rhetoric was very clear, that it had distinctly political undertones, and had a lot to do with power,” she said
“This is not something that happened organically — it was too well planned. It’s impossible to believe that people were not aware that this was going to happen.”
Listen to Veness:
After the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma in July, demonstrators took to the streets in parts of KZN and Gauteng in protests which quickly disintegrated into looting of businesses and riots that claimed the lives of more than 300 people.
The cost to businesses has been estimated in billions of rand. SA Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) MD Cedric Masondo said on Monday that claims arising from the riots amounted to R32bn.
The SAHRC panel will report and make findings and recommendations on:
- the causes of the unrest;
- the alleged racially motivated attacks and killings;
- apparent lapses in law enforcement by state security agencies, particularly the police, and the role of private security companies; and
- the social, economic, spatial, and political factors prevalent in the affected areas and the extent to which these played a role.
High-profile government officials, among others, are expected to testify next week.
The hearings will continue until December 3.
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