Looting and violence could have been worse: intelligence, police ministers

Ayanda Dlodlo and Bheki Cele insist they were not caught napping

13 July 2021 - 13:13 By mawande amashabalala

Mobs of looters overran the Pan Africa Mall in Alexandra, Gauteng on July 12 2021.

The looting and public violence that has gripped Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in the past few days could have been worse had it not been for State Security Agency and police intervention.

That's according to state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo and her police counterpart Bheki Cele, who on Tuesday said it was incorrect to say they had failed to do their job.

Dlodlo said intelligence structures have been hard at work feeding the police information to respond to planned events that are part of the unrest, triggered by the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma.

If the intelligence was not working, said Dlodlo, the country would have seen much worse violence than it has.

“From inception, before the violence flared up, between the SA African Police Service and state security we were sharing information ... From day one when everything started, we did share information with the police,” said Dlodlo.

A police officer walks through a looted store in Vosloorus on July 12 2021. State security minister Ayanda Dlodlo and police minister Bheki Cele said it was incorrect to say they had failed to do their job.
A police officer walks through a looted store in Vosloorus on July 12 2021. State security minister Ayanda Dlodlo and police minister Bheki Cele said it was incorrect to say they had failed to do their job.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

“The police would have done their best as well to follow up on information that we shared with them, while they also have their own crime intelligence capability, but we all work together.

“We averted a lot more than what you see on national television because of the proactive stance that was taken by both intelligence services and the work that was done by the police in averting greater crime that could have happened.

“What you see is only a part of what could have happened. So we were not missing in action as the SSA, and the police were not missing in action. We tried our level best under a very difficult situation.”

The list really is endless on what we averted, between the State Security Agency and the police. South Africans should be comforted that as they sleep at night, we are hard at work. 
State security minister Ayanda Dlodlo

Cele echoed Dlodlo's sentiments saying their absence in public was no sign that they were caught napping.

Police and intelligence prevented a lot of potential damage, claimed Cele. In this regard, he said the burning of trucks at Mooi River toll plaza at the weekend could have been far worse had police and intelligence not responded swiftly.

“The day after the burning of the trucks, at 2am the whole community charged for the shops with intention to loot, but fortunately the police had been tipped off and arrived at the same time as looters. Shops that would have been ransacked were saved,” said Cele.

Dlodlo listed a number of places that were apparently targeted by the rioters for destruction, which include the ANC provincial offices in KwaZulu-Natal.

Intelligence structures, said Dlodlo, and the police also stopped an attack on Sandton, as well as another at an Eskom power substation in Msunduzi in KwaZulu-Natal which was meant to be attacked on Monday.

“In the eThekwini metro, Westville Prison, information was given to the police. They [were] able to quell the issues that would have arisen there on a large scale,” said Dlodlo. 

“The list really is endless on what we averted, between the State Security Agency and the police. South Africans should be comforted that as they sleep at night, we are hard at work.” 

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