July unrest: Unrest remains a national fear

Any mention or reports of national shutdowns and protests have become triggering for KZN residents, who fear the worst, including that food insecurity might be the outcome.

The extensive violence, destruction of property and looting that took place in July 2021 had a deep impact on people’s lives, jobs and feeling of safety.

As a result, whenever there are rumours of a shutdown or even a basic protest, it creates fear among many people who think massive unrest may follow.

For example, in March, the EFF planned a national shutdown over service delivery and it immediately prompted intelligence, security personnel and police visibility as everyone thought it would result in yet more unrest.

Any mention or reports of national shutdowns and protests have become triggering for KZN residents, who fear the worst, including that food insecurity might be the outcome.

Sithembiso Mtshali said it is always frustrating when he hears about national shutdowns because he never knows how they will end.

“I think my biggest fear is the violence that comes with it. A lot of people got hurt and others died during the July unrest so it’s always best to stay home. However, it is frustrating because some of us really need to go to work, so we never know whether to take a risk or not.”

Nondumiso Shamase said when the province was engulfed by the anarchy, there was looting and as a result, food prices went up.

“My fear would be that we might end up not affording stuff as the cost of living will be too high and our salaries don’t increase, so we’ll basically have to live hand-to-mouth,” said Shamase.

Sibonginkosi Mabika also said the first thing that comes to mind is the loss of jobs because the economy is not at it’s strongest. He said he fears that the country will not be able to bounce back, food prices will go up again and more businesses will not be able to continue running.

South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria)

The unrest prompted many businesses and insurance companies to up their game when it comes to responding to threats to ensure that they are prepared for the worst.

The South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) is one of the insurance companies that had to pay billions of rands in claims after the unrest.

It has now produced a documentary about the events that unfolded during the unrest in July. The documentary explores and uncovers what happened during that time and identifies potential preventive measures that could have been taken.

Speaking on NewzRoom Afrika, executive manager of stakeholder management at Sasria Muzi Dladla said that one of the biggest lessons they learnt was the co-ordination of the various levels of defence that need to be in place.

Dladla said more could’ve been done with the partnership of intelligence, security personnel and police.

“We normally don’t look at the vulnerabilities in terms of what could go wrong if the police cannot get involved or assist, and if community members overpower and take over in such instances, and that was one of our biggest lessons.”

Panel report

A report by an expert panel appointed to review the government’s response to the unrest was released earlier this year.

The security services were tasked to urgently develop implementation plans to address the panel’s recommendations.

According to the report findings:

• the handling of events was inept;
• police operational planning was poor;
• there was a lack of co-ordination between state security and intelligence services; and
• police are not always embedded in the communities they serve.

Following the report, government is said to be working on measures to address the gaps by filling critical vacancies in the State Security Agency and Crime Intelligence, making leadership changes to strengthen its security structures and addressing staffing shortcomings at the SAPS public order policing unit, in order to prevent such turmoil in the future.

Read original story on www.citizen.co.za

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