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Government's response to looting to come under scrutiny as Ramaphosa finalises expert panel

18 September 2021 - 09:15
Looters flee from a police officer at a shop in the Springfield Value Centre in Durban. File photo.
Looters flee from a police officer at a shop in the Springfield Value Centre in Durban. File photo.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The expert panel set up to review the government's response to the recent unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is expected to start its work soon, after the completion of its terms of reference by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

On Friday, Ramaphosa said he has finalised the terms of reference of the expert panel he has established to review government’s security response to the incidents of public violence, destruction of property and looting which took place in July. Ramaphosa announced the establishment of the panel on August 5.

Among its tasks, the panel will be expected to:

  • Investigate and make findings on whether the government's response to the violence and associated security threat was appropriate, timely and co-ordinated;
  • Inquire into the capability and lack thereof of the security forces in responding to the violence;
  • Investigate whether the availability of necessary resources/equipment or lack thereof could have enabled the security forces to respond to the violence;
  • Assess the adequacy of the leadership and command structures of the security forces to deal with the violence and associated security threat;
  • Review what information relevant to the outbreak of violence and looting was available to the structures of the government both in the period leading up to, and after, the outbreak of violence;
  • Make findings on how information relevant to the violence and looting was managed, processed and co-ordinated within government;
  • Investigate community-based reaction and private sector initiatives, both leading up to, and after, the outbreak of violence;
  • Assess whether the deployment of security services and law enforcement was unduly delayed, and, if so, to establish the reasons why;
  • Investigate adequacy and coherence of the government's public communications on the security situation.

The three-member panel is to be chaired by public policy and security expert Prof Sandy Africa. She is the deputy dean of teaching and learning in the faculty of humanities at the University of Pretoria.

Human rights lawyer and University of Venda chancellor Adv Mojanku Gumbi and former deputy head of the SA Secret Service and former national co-ordinator of the  National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee Silumko Sokupa are also part of the panel.

The presidency said the panel will make recommendations to Ramaphosa, specifically on measures and systems that need to be put in place by the government to respond to such occurrences. The recommendations will be provided to Ramaphosa within three months of its full establishment.

“It is critical that we have a thorough and independent assessment of the readiness and response of government to these devastating events. This analysis will inform the steps we must take to improve our law enforcement and security capabilities. All state entities are ready to provide the panel with any assistance, information and support that it needs,” Ramaphosa said.