Asanda Matlhare
Intern Journalist
3 minute read
23 Aug 2021
5:15 am

SA waits with bated breath to see if we’ll burn again

Asanda Matlhare

According to a leaked operational document, the police are set to launch extraordinary protective measures countrywide.

Members of the SANDF. Picture: Michel Bega

Security forces appear to have learnt their lesson after the R50 billion lost and more than 300 deaths during last month’s riots by going on high alert after “inflammatory messages” advocating for violence and a national shutdown were widely shared on social media platforms.

According to a leaked operational document, the police are set to launch extraordinary protective measures countrywide after reports suggested instigators of the recent civil unrest planned to destabilise the country today.

A large march was allegedly planned in KwaZulu-Natal, with the intention to demand the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa, free education and to complain about “untested vaccines”, among other things.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said a planned national shutdown would not be as effective as unplanned unrest.

“If there was intelligence which suggested security services needed to be vigilant over the next few days, the planned unrest was unlikely to cause anywhere near the havoc caused last month.

“We’ve seen security forces get a rude wake-up call as to how ill-prepared they were.”

Silke said it was unlikely to get to the level of chaos of over a month ago as there was some semblance of security now.

“What we’re likely to see is where the ongoing levels of unease are in the country. Segments of the country, geographical and political and low levels of unrest, are linked to the ANC-nomination contest, linked to former president Jacob Zuma, and the premiership of North West.”

Kebby Maphatsoe, former president of the disbanded uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA), said the association knew nothing about the planned protest and distanced itself from the reports.

“We saw the media statement on social media used our name but the MKMVA would not be part of the anarchy protest. We have our own challenges that we are dealing with.

“It is not true we will be joining in. We don’t even know who is planning the protest,” he said.

Maphatsoe doubted the protest would be a success.

“The police and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) are on high alert. I don’t even understand the reasons for protesting. We distance ourselves from those activities.”

But political analyst Asanda Ngoasheng believed the “planned” national shutdown would do as much damage – if not more – than the previous riots.

“It has potential to cause a lot of damage because, while SANDF was prepared, they don’t know what new tactics would be used in the new insurgence. There are many ways to attack and cripple a country; it could be a cyberattack,” she said.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure yesterday released a warning to people behind the recent social media posts about a possible shutdown.

“Those behind these messages were warned inciting violence was a criminal offence. Members of the public were cautioned against spreading such divisive messages,” a statement said.

It discouraged people from taking part in the alleged national shutdown.

“Equally, a different set of messages also did the rounds where people were mobilising to respond to the supposed shutdown.

“The public was urged not to respond to calls for violence and criminality, and discouraged from participating in activities which seek to defy the rule of law and undermine the authority of the state.”

Democratic Alliance Gauteng shadow MEC for community safety Michael Shackleton confirmed the police and the SANDF were on high alert in all nine provinces to protect national key points, such as the Union Buildings and parliament.

“We urge people not to panic but to not visit the Union Buildings, Gandhi Square or the ANC provincial or national offices tomorrow [Monday],” said Shackleton.

– asandam@citizen.co.za