Durban – KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the provincial government relied on social media, mainstream media and a pamphlet for information regarding the civil unrest, prior to its outbreak in July.
Zikalala said that he did not receive any mentions of the impending large-scale events that took place during July, which claimed more than 300 lives and severely hurt the economy.
The premier was testifying before the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) at its inquiry into causes and effects of the unrest. He presented a lengthy report before the commission.
Zikalala touched on a number of issues surrounding the events that unfolded in July, including, but not limited to, the government's response to the outbreak, the role of law enforcement and socio-economic impacts.
He also said the Phoenix case, where 36 people were killed, was the “worst the province had seen in a decade”.
“Before the outbreak, there was no information received from any crime Intelligence structure (SSA or other) on the imminent threats in KwaZulu-Natal indicating its extent, nature and the need to prepare the Security Cluster response accordingly.
“This means that while the Premier ordinarily receives regular security briefings, no briefing had ever warned of the impending large-scale events that took place during July 2021. It is also worth reporting that the province did not at the time have a head of SSA.
“As leaders of government we too relied on social media and mainstream media reports for updates and through a pamphlet that called for a planned shutdown,” Zikalala said.
The unrest affected the province of KZN and parts of Gauteng, two of the country’s largest economic contributors. KZN contributes around 16% to the country’s R4.65 trillion GDP, according to StatsSA, while Gauteng contributes 34%.