News / South Africa / Breaking News

Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
25 Aug 2021
3:34 pm

16 unrest instigators have been identified, Cele tells Parliament

Molefe Seeletsa

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

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe

Police Minister Bheki Cele has revealed that 16 suspects who are believed to be the instigators behind the rampant looting and violent unrest the country witnessed in July have been identified.

Briefing the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday, Cele said 16 alleged instigators had been identified.

“To date, a total of 16 instigators have been identified and arrested. [They] are going through the court processes,” he said.

Earlier this month, Cele said that more instigators – including “high-profile” people – were 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.

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

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

In July, parts of the country were plunged into chaos following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma.

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.

Organised attacks

It is alleged that instigators used WhatsApp and Telegram in order to carry out their 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.