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No link, but Zuma arrest a 'trigger'

30 Jan 2024

the SA Human Rights Commission SAHRC finding no evidence linking the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma to the 2021 July unrest, it was "a trigger" for the looming unrest, according to experts. They previously warned unrest was imminent, with political analyst Arthur Shopola saying he was not surprised by the commission's finding "because that thing was long coming". "A hungry mob is an angry mob. I am using this quotation simply to say that our country's socioeconomic status is very alarming, to a point where unrest is very possible," he said. "At the time, it just needed a trigger and, regrettably, the Constitutional Court pulled the trigger with the arrest order for Zuma.
"We must accept that our country is facing political mismanagement and a similar unrest might ensue anytime if this does not change or at least improve." Shopola said he was not suggesting the ConCourt was wrong. "I am simply saying that triggers might be different but the cause is joblessness, poor living conditions and inequality. The commission could not have established any other finding." Yesterday, the SAHRC and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities CRL Rights Commission released reports on the hearings into the rampant looting and unrest in 2021. Presenting the commission's final report on the riots in KZN and parts of Gauteng, commissioner Philile Ntuli said evidence pointed to highlevel orchestration. The intention behind the unrest remained unclear. "Amid this socioeconomic downturn, the nation was also facing the unprecedented event of the possible incarceration of a former head of state," she said. "It is probable that the unrest was undertaken to destabilise the economy. However, it will be ultimately within the preview of the SA Police Service and the National Prosecuting Authority to make a conclusive finding." Ntuli noted the "violence and distraction were symptomatic of unresolved systematic conditions, including postCovid economic recovery, high unemployment, lawlessness, discrimination, socioeconomic divides and issues within the security sector". Reacting to the reports, national police commissioner General Fannie Masemola said they have started implementing the recommendations of the Africa report, "and we have started with regards to increasing the number of public order police". "A lot that is mentioned in the report is, in hindsight, easy to criticise. But if you reflect back on the unrest, there was a time where one had to prioritise what to do and what not to do," he said. "There'll be a lot of mentions that the situation in the country is not stable or the security situation is deteriorating." However, he said law enforcement did what it could. He also noted that they were now increasing numbers of public order police, having allocated 5 000 recruits. According to the CRL Rights Commission, racism has always been prevalent in Phoenix, north of Durban. However, criminality, organised groups and inequality also played a role in the unrest. CRL Rights Commission chair Prof Luka Mosoma said mistrust and suspicion made it difficult for the Phoenix and surrounding areas' communities "to coexist and foster the values of friendship, peace, humanity, tolerance based on equality, nondiscrimination and free association". "The CRL Rights Commission found that economic dominance of Indians in eThekwini, especially when it comes to control, ownership and management of the economy, is still prevalent," he said. "This was exemplified by some woman from Amaoti, who said 'we have nothing, our lives are in Phoenix, where they have ATMs, garages, supermarkets, clinics, schools, jobs, hospitals and many other facilities'," Mosoma said.

Source: The Citizen

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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