The Democratic Alliance (DA) is set to lay charges of treason and terrorism against the instigators of incidents of looting, violence and destruction of property that engulfed parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this past week.
This is after acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni revealed on Thursday that one of the 12 people who are believed to be the instigators of the violence is in police custody.
Ntshavheni said the police were now on high alert for the remaining 11 suspects.
WhatsApp used to plan attacks
According to Daily Maverick, the instigators used WhatsApp and Telegram in order to carry out their strategic planned attacks.
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 former president Jacob 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.
The social media groups and messages are now being investigating by the authorities.
Treason and terrorism
Now, the DA plans to take action against the instigators by laying treason and terrorism charges.
“There can be no other course for the DA than to lay charges of treason and terrorism against these individuals who showed a complete lack of regard for the lives they were endangering and the livelihoods they would destroy in their ill-considered attempt at overthrowing President Cyril Ramaphosa and their own ANC government,” DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said in a statement.
Breytenbach said the WhatsApp messages showed those behind the attacks intended to destabilise and remove the current government.
“The DA believes that these messages show that the instigators intended to commit acts of terrorism and went about it in a very methodical way.
“Under South African law, treason is defined as any conduct unlawfully committed by a person owing allegiance to a state with the intention of overthrowing the government; coercing the government by violence into any action or inaction; violating, threatening or endangering the existence, independence or security of the country; and changing its constitutional structure,” she said.
It is alleged that Zuma’s ex-bodyguard, Thulani Dlomo, was one of the prime suspects of the “well-orchestrated economic sabotage”, according to News24.
Zuma’s incarceration has been fingered as the ostensible trigger of the widespread riots, notably in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
The death toll from violent protests around the two provinces has since risen to 117, while a total of 2072 people had been arrested as of Thursday.
Dlomo – who is the former head of a State Security Agency (SSA) special operations unit – is one of the instigators that are being investigated by the agency for carrying out the “modus operandi”.
Meanwhile, Zuma’s daughter Duduzile Zuma-Sambundla is another person that is alleged to be an instigator in the violence.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte indicated on Monday that the party would hold Zuma-Sambudla accountable for her social media comments thanking the violent protesters for supporting her father.