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Revealing intel on riots is not in the country's interests: Ntshavheni

Acting minister in the presidency confirms unrest death toll is 79 in Gauteng and 258 in KwaZulu-Natal.

22 July 2021 - 18:12 By aphiwe deklerk
A soldier patrols in Soweto last week after violent protests and looting. File photo.
A soldier patrols in Soweto last week after violent protests and looting. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy/Sunday Times

Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the government will not make public the intelligence information it had in the lead up to last week's violent protesting and looting.

Ntshavheni was speaking at a media briefing on Thursday afternoon, and was addressing a demand by Amnesty International for the government to release the information it had before the unrest.

At the same briefing, Ntshavheni confirmed that the death toll as a result of the unrest was 337 — made up of 79 in Gauteng and 258 in KwaZulu-Natal.

Addressing journalists at the daily press conference on the unrest, Ntshavheni said Amnesty International was going beyond its scope.

She said the government had committed to release information such as the number of deaths and murders, and a full investigation would be conducted to ensure those responsible are held accountable.

“It's not in the best interest of the country to disclose the intelligence information that was in the disposal of the state. And Amnesty International must be satisfied with the fact that everybody who has died or every damage that has been caused will be accounted for, and those who have murdered people will be apprehended,” said Ntshavheni. She said those to be brought to book include those who planned the unrest and those who killed people during the unrest.

Her statement comes after the minister of state security, Ayanda Dlodlo, and police minister Bheki Cele publicly disagreed about intelligence-sharing in the lead up to the unrest.

At a press conference last week, which was also attended by Cele, Dlodlo told the media that they had shared information with the police.

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

Her statement in some sectors created an impression that the SAPS had not acted on the information.

In a joint meeting of the portfolio committee of parliament on police and defence, Cele denied Dlodlo's assertions, saying if indeed there was such information, he would have had to sign for it personally.

The contradictions have prompted the chairperson of the police portfolio committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to commit that her committee will call all ministers of the justice, crime prevention and security cluster to account.

Ntshavheni said 42 cases of murder related to the deaths have been opened in Gauteng while police have opened 37 inquest dockets. In KZN, 171 cases of murder and 87 inquest cases have been opened.