Civil unrest: Hunt underway for instigator of the ’well-orchestrated’ attacks
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Police have arrested three of the 12 people suspected to be the instigators of nationwide looting and destruction of property which saw businesses losing billions of rand in the past week.
The civil unrest began after former president Jacob Zuma, at the eleventh hour last Wednesday, handed himself to the police to begin his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court as directed by the Constitutional Court.
His incarceration followed days of a show of force by his son, Edward Zuma, and his supporters, who vowed to lay down their lives to ensure that he doesn't see the inside of a prison cell.
Just over a week after Zuma was incarcerated at the Estcourt Correctional Centre in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, 212 lives have been lost during the civil unrest and looting in both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
KZN accounts for about 180 of the death toll. More than 2 000 alleged rioters and looters have been arrested so far.
Law enforcement officers have shifted the focus to bringing to book the alleged instigators of the "well-orchestrated" attacks.
National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole has confirmed that the three among the 12 names were given to the police by concerned members of the public as the instigators of the civil unrest.
“One of the people arrested recorded a voice note which was circulated, encouraging people to loot and burn certain properties,” Sitole said.
Police are still tracing a woman, believed to be in Durban, who also recorded a voice note encouraging people to burn police stations and court buildings nationwide from Monday.
Sunday Independent understands that the State Security Agency (SSA) has identified five individuals who are believed to be the masterminds behind the #FreeZuma campaign.
“Zuma’s name is being used to commit all these crimes, but there is absolutely no link between the former president and these criminals,” a senior state security official said yesterday.
The country went into a frenzy after Zuma was arrested for refusing to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State Capture. He accused its chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, of being conflicted in his matter.
One of the voice notes circulating and being investigated by police is encouraging people to target state institutions and certain judges.
Sitole couldn’t confirm whether this person is one of the three people arrested so far.
“We are still profiling the 12 names that the public gave us. We haven’t yet arrested known political figures. All the three were arrested in Gauteng, but they have different addresses, including in KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.
Meanwhile, former SSA spook and South Africa ambassador to Japan, Thulani Dlomo, handed himself over to the police on Friday night after he was reported to be one of the instigators, but he wasn’t arrested.
Dlomo’s lawyer, Philani Shangase, said on Saturday that his client was forced to hand himself to the police to clear his name.
“When we arrived at the police station, it was established that Dlomo isn’t implicated in any case or being investigated by any law enforcement agencies as being part of the looters or instigators, and he was allowed to go home because he is innocent.
“There is a smear campaign against him because he is believed to be close to former president Zuma. Somebody malicious decided to cook up a fake story about him, and it was carried out by reputable media houses.
"We are busy studying every newspaper clip and news video before we can decide what action to take against those peddlers of fake news.” Shangase said.