Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
8 Aug 2021
5:37 pm

SA unrest: More than 12 instigators expected to be arrested, says Cele

Molefe Seeletsa

Last month, parts of the country plunged into chaos following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma.

Minister of Police General Bheki Cele. Picture: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach

More suspects who are believed to be the instigators behind the rampant looting and violent unrest the country witnessed recently are expected to be arrested.

This is despite government previously suggesting that 12 instigators were behind the “well-orchestrated economic sabotage”.

Last month, parts of the country plunged into chaos following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma.

READ MORE: Sitole evasive over arrests of 11 alleged riot instigators

The violence took place in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and left more than 300 people dead to date.

However, the looting, which was widely seen as an expression of anger and frustration by people living in poverty, was also worsened by the impact of Covid-19.


Speaking in Lamontville, KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday afternoon, Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that more instigators – including “high-profile” people – are expected to be arrested.

“When it comes to the people [who were] regarded as instigators the figure there has remained at 12 of the people, but that does not end there because there are many that have been identified and police are identifying more going forward.

“We believe that there will be people identified in high profile, where police are after them,” he said.

Cele had visited Lamontville following the shooting of a 33-year-old woman.


Briefing Parliament’s portfolio committee on police last month, National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole indicated that 11 alleged instigators were behind bars.

Sitole, however, refrained from saying that the instigators behind the unrest were “12 people”.

“I don’t want to say there are 12 people. We have asked in the National Security Council as well, where we are reporting, that we rather be allowed to deal with this matter operationally. Because, from time to time, we are asked to relate on progress on arrests.

ALSO READ: Poor handling of attempted insurrection raises security fears

“Although it’s no longer a problem to report people that have already been arrested, but sometimes if you are dealing with an unconventional approach, it is far more risky to tell people that you have arrested someone, because of the other unconventional modus operandi risk[s] that are there,” he said.

Organised attacks

It is alleged that instigators used WhatsApp and Telegram in order to carry out their strategic planned attacks according to Daily Maverick.

The publication cited senior ANC and security intelligence officials as their sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Screenshots of the messages – shared on Facebook – appear to show that the organised attacks targeted trucks, highways and businesses.

TimesLive reported that the “Shutdown eThekwini” WhatsApp group was created only a day after Zuma was admitted to the Estcourt Correctional Centre in KwaZulu-Natal to start serving his 15-month jail sentence for contempt.

The group allegedly included ANC members and government officials.