Aug 10, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

25 stories you need to read about one year after the July 2021 unrest

It has been a year since civil unrest, looting and criminality gripped parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, with South Africans still trying to pick up the pieces.

The violence and looting broke out after days of protests in KwaZulu-Natal linked to the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma, and quickly spread to parts of Gauteng.

The unrest left 354 people dead, communities in ruins, and cost billions in damage.

KZN recovery could be better: Zikalala takes national government to task

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala says national government could have “done better” to assist the province as it recovers from the deadly floods that have devastated infrastructure.

In a recent interview, Zikalala revealed the National Treasury was invited to form part of a joint team that assessed the damage. But instead only the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (Misa) sent representatives.

According to Zikalala, a joint assessment would have allowed theNational Treasury to release relief funds much earlier.

July riots: criminal investigation into UPL toxic spill ‘almost complete’

A year after one of the country’s worst environmental disasters, the criminal investigation into Indian chemical giant United Phosphorus Ltd (UPL) is almost complete, according to government.

National department of environment, forestry & fisheries (DFFE) spokesperson Albi Modise told TimesLIVE Premium that on completion of the investigation, the docket would be handed to the director of public prosecutions to decide whether to prosecute.

July 12 marks a ear since the UPL chemical warehouse in Cornubia, north of Durban, was burnt to the ground by arsonists during the unrest, unleashing 5,500 tonnes of pesticides, solvents and other agrochemicals into the environment.

Lack of arrests of July unrest instigators reflects ‘failed governance’ — NGO

The lack of arrests of those who incited and encouraged violent criminal activity during the July unrest last year is a reflection of failed governance.

This is according to NGO Active Citizens Movement (ACM) on the first anniversary of the catastrophic events that unfolded in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The organisation told TimesLIVE it was concerned that a year after the unrest “the political and social conditions in our country still remain the same or indeed have deteriorated even further”.

‘We’ve been let down’: What you said about whether those responsible for the July unrest will be brought to book

While SA remembers the civil unrest, looting and criminality that gripped parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng a year ago, TimesLIVE readers have weighed in on whether those responsible will ever be brought to book.

The violence broke out after days of protests in KwaZulu-Natal linked to the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.

July 2021 unrest exposed SA’s racial fault lines: panel

The unrest that besieged KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng a year ago exposed racialised fault lines entrenched in society.

In a recent collective submission to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which conducted hearings into the catastrophic events, a group of KwaZulu-Natal based individuals and organisations said the noble ideal of non-racialism “has not been achieved, and we have much work to do to transform attitudes, values, stereotyping and power relations across all racial groupings in SA”.

They said: “The impact of colonialism and apartheid has left enduring negative legacies in all communities.

‘They were killed like stray dogs’: One year later, where is the justice for those murdered in July unrest?

“It’s like they killed stray dogs on that night … no-one is being held responsible for the death of my son. The police have been quiet since we buried Sihle on July 20 last year.”

One year after the violent unrest that plunged parts of SA into anarchy and claimed the lives of 354 victims, Sihle Kotelani’s mother, Hlengiwe, battled to hold back tears during an interview at her home in Amaoti, Inanda, in KwaZulu-Natal.

For eight dark days in July last year, South Africans watched in horror as the country was engulfed in a violent spree of looting and death, as protests against the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma rocked KwaZulu-Natal and quickly spiralled into lawlessness and looting.

During a six-month investigation, the Sunday Times identified Kotelani as one of 199 people murdered in KwaZulu-Natal during the riots, most of whom were shot from behind. A further 38 were murdered in Gauteng.

Kotelani’s name is included in a data set the Sunday Times obtained. The data set includes the names of most of the dead and how and where they died. However, many of the victims remain unnamed, entered simply as “unknown”.

EDITORIAL | One year later, all we have is unfinished business

What makes the deaths more tragic is that they are as much a product of our broken politics as they are of heavy-handed security, a consequence of the rift that has grown in the ANC between President Cyril Ramaphosa and supporters of the former president Jacob Zuma.

A year ago, it became clear that Zuma supporters would stop at nothing to keep their hero out of jail, including burning the country to the ground.

Given the many crises facing the country, there is still a real danger of political opportunists capitalising on genuine grievances to instigate unrest in future. Will the government be ready next time?

WATCH | ‘I must accept the outcome of the looting’- Amanzimtoti youngster explains why he joined friends looting

On the evening of July 12 2021, Ntokozo Banda was in a car with a friend and some acquaintances when they stopped near Southgate Business Park near Amanzimtoti, south of Durban.

The group entered the industrial complex, which is packed with businesses selling everything from forklifts and air conditioners, to packaging and vehicle parts.

Hours later, the 22-year-old would-be architect from KwaMakhutha left Southgate for Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi with life-changing injuries. He had been shot in the spine, allegedly by a police officer from Amanzimtoti Police Station.

WATCH | ‘I had to watch my son’s lifeless body, bullet hole in his head, for almost a day’

On July 12 last year Simphiwe Mkhwanazi’s mother sent him to top up her Flash machine.

The promising 16-year-old soccer star’s mom, Thokozile Mkhize, runs a spaza shop in Inanda, north of Durban. That night, she asked him to go and recharge the device she uses to sell electricity, airtime and data tokens.

What was supposed to be a simple errand became hell for Simphiwe. He was shot in the leg, allegedly by security guards at Mambha Cash & Carry, as he was passing by.

For five days Thokozile could not get her son to hospital because of burning barricades erected by residents of neighbouring Phoenix and he lay at home. By the time he got to hospital, gangrene had set in and his leg had to be amputated.

‘I got what I deserved’: Durban’s ‘Mercedes looter’ apologises to SA

On July 12, 2021, Mbuso Moloi wrecked his life when he decided to take part in the looting. Footage of him carrying a basket of groceries from a Woolworths store in Durban was seen all over social media.

Moloi,to be forever labelled the Woolies looter or the Mercedes looter, is now apologising to all South Africans through two letters he gave to the Sunday Times.

Moloi said his name had been tarnished when he was photographed carrying the basket of food items which he loaded into his father’s Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe.

He said his decision to loot at the time was a poor reflection of his character and what he believed in.

‘They took everything’: looted doctor builds back

Dr Mpho Mushadu, from Ndofaya Medical Centre in Meadowlands, Soweto, would rather not talk about the looting last July. It destroyed his practice.

“It is something I want to forget about. Every time when people ask about it, I don’t want to go there,” he said.

The medical centre was destroyed when looters took everything and smashed the walls and ceiling, in spite of the building being next to the Meadowlands police station.

S’THEMBISO MSOMI | Lack of urgency in bringing riot instigators to book speaks volumes

It has become clear in the intervening year that many “people of interest” who the police would dearly like to question are in fact members of government who have spent much of the year appearing on public platforms with the president whose government they apparently wanted to oust through illegal and violent means.

It is hard to believe that the authorities were in the dark about the conspirators who plunged the country into violence; perhaps they were simply too frightened to act against them, especially in a year in which the ANC is headed for an elective conference that may produce a new leader.

July 2021 unrest: KZN firms ‘reluctant to rebuild capacity’

As the country marks the one-year anniversary of the July riots this week, larger businesses remain hesitant to build capacity back to pre-riot levels, while in KwaZulu-Natal some firms that are still struggling to recover are considering relocating to other provinces.

Large businesses, which have seen more of a recovery after last year’s events that affected KZN and parts of Gauteng, fear there could be a repeat as none of the ringleaders of the mayhem that unfolded between July 8 and 14 have been prosecuted.

SA’s famous blue sofa finds a forever home

Recovered from a pavement in a Durban informal settlement after being looted from a warehouse during the July unrest, SA’s R67,999 blue sofa will move to a children’s home next week.

Leather Gallery owner Terry Parry said the item will be donated to Wylie House Child and Youth Care Centre, a home in the city for girls aged three to 18.

Businesses still not confident in KZN after July unrest: Durban Chamber CEO

One year after the July unrest, investor confidence in KwaZulu-Natal is yet to be restored, with many businesses across the country uncertain that their money is safe in the province.

This is according to Durban Chamber of Commerce & Industry CEO Palesa Phili, who addressed the media at a briefing by KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala on Friday.

People must face the wrath of the law: Modise on July 2021 unrest

Nobody is above the law, including members of the ANC, who may be found to have committed criminal acts during the July 2021 civil unrest.

This is what defence minister Thandi Modise said on Friday while addressing a media briefing by the justice, crime prevention and security cluster (JCPS)on prosecutions after the riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

LISTEN | The July riots, a year later, but no justice for the 237 people murdered

The deaths during the unrest paint a horrific picture of bodies piling up in government mortuaries after many were murdered during those dark eight days of looting and protests, with police often nowhere to be found.

EDITORIAL | How can hundreds of people be murdered and no-one held accountable?

“If anything proves our lives are cheap, it must be the callousness with which those who took part in what we refer to as the July riots were killed and the subsequent lack of accountability”.

Family of teen ‘killed by cop’ don’t believe they will see justice

The family of Ntando Ndlovu, 14, killed at Pietermaritzburg’s Southgate shopping centre, allegedly by a police officer, don’t believe they will ever receive justice.

Ntando lived with his grandmother Margaret Thusi and his elder brother S’bonelo in France township, 10km outside the city.

On the morning of July 8 last year, Thusi, who works in rural Thornville for a fresh produce supplier, said she left Ntando in S’bonelo’s care.

WATCH | ‘Some want to loot again’: Soweto picks up the pieces a year after July unrest

On the scene a year after Jabulani Mall was ravaged by looting and unrest, we spoke to residents of Soweto about the day their lives changed forever.

July riots shop explosion: some say four died, some say six, but others say more

On the morning of July 12 2021 a crowd in Umzimkhulu, about 160km southwest of Durban, gathered at the entrance of the town to loot businesses. Their main target was the Umzimkhulu Mall.

Their plan was thwarted. The mall was protected by other members of the community and heavily-armed taxi bosses. The crowd had no choice but to look at other stores in the vicinity.

36 arrests for Phoenix murders, Hawks probing 8 cases of incitement for July 2021 unrest

More than 2,435 cases relating to criminal activity in the civil unrest last year are on the court roll, with convictions obtained in at least 50 cases.

This is according to defence minister Thandi Modise, speaking at a briefing by the justice, crime prevention and security cluster (JCPS) on Friday on prosecutions after the riots and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

One year after Ramaphosa’s addresses on July unrest, what has changed?

It has been nearly a year since President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the devastating public violence, looting and criminality that gripped parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

In one address, Ramaphosa pledged to restore calm and authorised the deployment of the military to help police.

As we reflect on life a year after the unrest, here are claims and promises made by Ramaphosa during his addresses.

5 names in the spotlight at the time

From former president Jacob Zuma to a Woolworths looter, a very expensive couch and a community member who would go on to greater fame.

Here are five names in the spotlight during the unrest:

Were citizens the real heroes? Will there be another uprising? What you said about the July 2021 unrest

As we watched the violence unfold and heard the promises of action that would be taken against the rioters and instigators, we asked you what you thought of the unrest.

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