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Many children were arrested during July unrest and looting, says social development minister, Lindiwe Zulu

01 December 2021 - 13:34
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu testified at the SAHRC hearings into the civil unrest and looting in July.
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu testified at the SAHRC hearings into the civil unrest and looting in July.
Image: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Many of those arrested in July during the civil unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were children. 

This was revealed by social development minister Lindiwe Zulu when she testified on Wednesday at the SA Human Rights Commission hearings into the unrest. 

Zulu said her department was responsible for dealing with children who were arrested, and confirmed they had directly contributed to discussions with the ministers of justice and police for their release into the custody of their families. 

“I can confirm that whenever there were meetings about how we feel about children who are arrested and whether those children need to be released into the care of their families, we contributed directly. The children were released because of these conversations,” she said.

In Gauteng most children arrested were from Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg.

She said it came as no surprise that the faces of many involved in the July unrest were young people, highlighting SA’s dismal youth unemployment rate. 

Zulu emphasised the country’s vulnerable citizens were most affected by the mass looting and destruction of infrastructure, specifically regarding food security.

When questioned about how she personally felt about the amount of food destroyed during the unrest she replied: “One can never be happy with food being destroyed when you know there are people who need the food. Many of the people who need this food had very little to do with the unrest.” 

She said her department was faced with a challenge of being understaffed which was made worse by the destruction of their offices in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng during the unrest. 

“In KwaZulu-Natal 21 Sapo (SA Post Office) buildings in the districts of Harry Gwala, uMgungundlovu, Ugu and Ulundi experienced severe destruction. In Gauteng 25 Sapo branch offices across five districts were damaged, with 10 still not functional.” 

Zulu said the silver lining of the unrest was that it ensured government refocused its attention on those who were the most vulnerable. 

Hawks boss Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya is expected to testify later on Wednesday.



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