A year after July unrest — 5 names who grabbed the spotlight at the time

08 July 2022 - 09:33
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Soldiers were deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to support police during the unrest and looting in July 2021. File photo.
Soldiers were deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to support police during the unrest and looting in July 2021. File photo.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Friday marks a year since the July unrest that rocked SA and saw riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

At this time last year, KwaZulu-Natal was plunged into chaos with riots and looting that spread to Gauteng, leaving 354 people dead, R50bn in damage, more than 150,000 jobs lost and zero convictions. 

The protests followed the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma for 15 months for contempt of court after he defied an order by the Constitutional Court to appear before the state capture inquiry.

July Riot
July Riot
Image: Graphic: Nolo Moima

Here are five names that were in the spotlight during the unrest:

Former president Zuma

What started as protests against Zuma’s imprisonment soon turned into rioting, looting and violence. 

Zuma handed himself over after being found guilty of contempt of court for refusing to appear before the Zondo commission. 

He was jailed at the Estcourt Correctional Centre and his incarceration set in motion destructive and co-ordinated events that threatened to rip the country apart. 

At the time of his arrest, department of correctional services officials said Zuma was not receiving preferential treatment at the facility.

“He will be treated like any other offender within our facility.

“It is important to indicate that once a person is handed over to our facility, we take full responsibility as a department. Security arrangements for the former president become the responsibility of the department, not that of the police or protection services,” it said, before later placing him on medical parole. 

Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla

At the height of the July unrest, the former president’s daughter was accused of inciting violence and mobilising his supporters to protest against his arrest.

On Twitter, she encouraged people to protest against his incarceration. She has not distanced herself from the posts.

Twitter users reported Zuma-Sambudla for sharing clips of the violent protests and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng on her account. 

The social media company took action against her, saying the complaints against the clips may fall under “terrorism/violent extremism”. 

Spokesperson for the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, said any investigation into Zuma-Sambudla would be malicious. 

“They must not even try that. It is absolute nonsense. People are on the streets. Most of them are not on Twitter. They don’t even know what Twitter is,” he said. 

“There is absolutely no connection whatsoever between what she is tweeting and what is happening. To try to link it to her is another persecution of the Zuma family.”

Nhlanhla ‘Lux’ Dlamini

The Operation Dudula leader rose to prominence when he was among those who defended a shopping mall in Soweto during the unrest. 

As a member of the Soweto Parliament, Dlamini helped guard the Maponya Mall from looting and vandalism. 

Speaking about why he chose to help guard the mall, Dlamini told President Cyril Ramaphosa  he was defending the township’s economy. 

“It has been six days of hell for some of us, sleepless nights. The president is here and people come out of their houses. Where were they when we were protecting these malls? These are people our age. They take guns and fire them in the air but these guns can’t come and defend our township economy,” said Dlamini.

Maponya Mall was my final stop today, where I met with a group of young people led by Nhlanhla Lux, who rose up during...

Posted by Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, July 18, 2021

Mbuso Moloi

The infamous “Mercedes-Benz looter” made headlines after he was caught on camera allegedly looting at a Woolworths store in Durban. He is facing charges of theft and public violence. 

A now-viral video showed him picking up a full shopping basket and putting it inside his car.

Speaking to TimesLIVE, Moloi said he was not looting and the incident was taken out of context.

Moloi appeared at the Durban magistrate’s court in May and was expected to plead guilty to charges including theft, trespassing and operating a vehicle without a corresponding number plate.

However, his attorney withdrew his representation, saying his mandate had been terminated. He was the second attorney dropped by Moloi in the case.

Moloi said he was having financial problems and would go to Legal Aid to do a means test. 

San Pablo couch

The R70,000 blue couch was taken when an upmarket furniture store in Springfield was looted. 

The couch was the subject of a meme when it was photographed in an informal settlement hours after it had been stolen from Leather Gallery’s warehouse. 

After it was stolen, the owners of the furniture store offered a reward for information about the couch.

Sydenham police recovered the couch on July 23, and it was put on display at Menlyn Park shopping centre in Gauteng during the festive period. 

Leather Gallery owner Terry Parry told the Sunday Times the couch would be donated to Wylie House Child and Youth Care Centre, a Durban home for girls.

“My introduction to Wylie House was about 40 years ago when a social worker friend lived in the big old house, now converted to a house for the girls and a social worker residence. The work those special social workers do is immeasurable as they integrate broken girls into a safe haven and schooling,” said Parry.

“I have watched some younger girls arriving home from school as they greet or hug their carers, chatting happily about their day at school and showing their drawings, paintings and school notices. The girls are given love, security and safe boundaries.

“At a time of such an escalation crisis of abuse against women and children in our country, this home is absolutely essential. Sadly, it can only accommodate a few girls who are fortunate to have been removed from unbearable and often life-threatening situations,” she said.

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