Parliament to start an inquiry into violent pro-Zuma protests and looting

21 July 2021 - 13:15 By aphiwe deklerk
Parliament is planning to start an official inquiry into the violent pro-Jacob Zuma protests and looting that broke out this month.
Parliament is planning to start an official inquiry into the violent pro-Jacob Zuma protests and looting that broke out this month.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Parliament is planning to start an official inquiry into the violent pro-Jacob Zuma protests and looting that broke out this month.

National Assembly house chairperson Cedric Frolick confirmed on Wednesday that after an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, they will ask for a parliamentary inquiry.

The protests, which have been characterised by President Cyril Ramaphosa as an attempted insurrection, broke out in KZN following Zuma's arrest for contempt of court after he failed to adhere to a Constitutional Court order that he appear at the Zondo commission.

Frolick was part of the delegation of MPs from the police portfolio committee which initially visited KZN and on Wednesday visited Gauteng.

He said MPs from the police portfolio and joint committees of intelligence and on defence, would put together a report after different oversight visits and would call for the house to recommend that an inquiry be set up.

“One of the views already coming out strongly is the need for an in-depth parliamentary inquiry into the events of the last week,” said Frolick.

He said the inquiry would aim to uncover what exactly happened and also look at lapses in response to the unrest.

Frolick said time frames for the inquiry would be decided by National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise, but he said it should happen as soon as possible.

“We don't want an inquiry now that will start at the end of the year, it must start as soon as parliament reconvenes in August,” said Frolick.

Parliament is further expected to summons security cluster ministers to account for intelligence failure during the looting spree and perceived public spats over the matter.

Chairperson of the committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, confirmed they will call police minister Bheki Cele, state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo and defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Dlodlo and Cele have engaged in a public spat over an intelligence report by the State Security Agency (SSA) on the unrest, while Mapisa-Nqakula found herself heavily criticised after she appeared to be disagreeing with Ramaphosa's characterisation of the protests as an insurrection.

“The portfolio committee of police will call the entire (justice, crime prevention and security cluster) to account, which will include all the ministers —the minister of defence and military veterans, the minister of police and the minister of state security.

“They will come to the portfolio committee and it is there where we will get to the bottom of what is happening. So we will not leave the matter here. I think it is important that we speak with one voice,” said Joemat-Pettersson.

She further blamed the shortage of public order police as one of the reasons that crippled police response.

The police have been heavily criticised for their response to the protests and looting.

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