Citizen Reporter
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3 minute read
17 Dec 2021
11:04 am

Zuma parole: Fears over potential unrest ignited as SAHRC calls for ‘calm’

Citizen Reporter

The human rights commission says it is concerned about posts on social media that may result in riots yet again.

Former president Zuma supporters close the N3 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, burn tyres and put sand on the roads on 9 July 2021 in Durban, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images/Volksblad/Mlungisi Louw

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has called for calm amid fears over potential unrest emanating from former president Jacob Zuma’s ordered return to prison.

This is after the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday ruled that Zuma should go back to prison to serve out the remainder of his 15-month sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

Judge Elias Matojane had ruled that former national commissioner of correctional services Arthur Fraser’s decision to place Zuma on medical parole in September was unlawful.

The Department of Correctional Services, as well as the Jacob G Zuma Foundation, confirmed that they would appeal the high court’s judgment at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein.

Riots

The 8-to-19 July riots – which took place in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng this year – resulted in more than 330 people losing their lives, with the violence ostensibly being triggered by Zuma’s imprisonment.

Now with disgruntled pro-Zuma supporters livid over the court ruling, the SAHRC said it was concerned about posts on social media that may result in unrest yet again.

“The commission also notes that the social media is already abuzz with statements that have the potential to inflame the situation in the country. Some statements have been made on public news media which can have the same effect,” the SAHRC said in a statement.

ALSO READ: Sending Zuma back to prison is a victory for equality before the law, says Steenhuisen

The commission, which conducted public hearings regarding the July unrest, further called for calm.

“The commission would like to remind the South African public that the former president, like any other citizen, has the right to take the recent decision of the high court on appeal or review for different sets of Judges to look at and pronounce on the soundness and validity thereof,” it added.

Security cluster

Addressing concerns over the possibility of another round of violent riots, Police Minister Bheki Cele said the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) was on high alert as they had “learnt their lessons”.

“We have learnt from our experiences and we will have to use those experiences that the repeat of the destruction of property and loss of life as it happened shouldn’t.

“We have met with the management and leadership of the South African Police and the Defence Force to make the preparations that the responses and reactions are much better this time and we believe they are on the ground in preparation for that as we speak,” Cele said during a media briefing on Thursday.

READ MORE: Niehaus calls on ‘concerned’ South Africans to oppose overturning of Zuma’s parole

Defence Minister Thandi Modise said the South African Defence Force (SANDF) could be deployed.

“[The SANDF] has agreed to take over toll roads and toll gates. We cannot afford a situation, as a country, where trucks block strategic economic routes. We have already started looking at how we will deploy to do that,” Modise said.

The state of South Africa’s security was in the spotlight following the riots.

The police, along with the JCPS ministers, were criticised for the handling of the unrest, with President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledging government’s unpreparedness for the riots.

Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe