72 die, 1 234 arrested in KZN, Gauteng lootings

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Seventy-two people have as of Tuesday evening died in the ongoing destruction and looting of businesses and violent protests in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The number of those arrested in the unrest has risen to 1 234.

Tuesday saw more boots on the ground with the deployment of members the South African National Defence Force and the augmentation of law enforcement officers by the recalling of SAPS members from leave and rest days.

This was in an effort to quell the rampant elements of criminality perpetuated by the looting of businesses and destruction of property.

In a statement, the NatJOINTS said while the violence had not spread to other provinces there was a report from Mpumalanga of an incident of looting and destruction of property in the Matsulu policing precinct where one person was arrested.

“There has also been a report of two incidents in the Northern Cape, Galeshewe where one person has been arrested,” the government structure said.

However, law enforcement in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape had identified areas of threat in an effort to deter possible opportunistic criminality. 

“Provincial Commissioners have in the meantime also activated the SAPS social crime prevention strategy and have been engaging with various stakeholders including community based organisations, traditional leaders and the business community in order to amplify current operational plans to best tackle the looting and destruction of property currently prevalent in KZN and GP.

“The total number of people who have lost their lives since the beginning of these protests in KZN on Friday, 9 July 2021 has risen to 72. In KZN there are 27 cases being investigated by the police (murder 14, inquest 13) while the number in GP is 45 (murder 19, inquest 26),” reads the statement.

The NatJOINTS said the greater part of the inquest dockets relate to stampedes that occurred during incidents of looting of shops and malls; while other deaths and injuries were related to ATM explosions and shooting.

The SAPS, Defence and SSA, as co-chairpersons of the NatJOINTS, earlier in the day condemned the attacks on law enforcement officers that claimed the life of Meshack Mahlangu, an Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department officer.

Seven SAPS members are recovering from injuries sustained while responding to violent protests. Three of the officers were in KZN while the other four were injured in Gauteng.

Meanwhile, police from Soweto operationalised information received from the Intelligence Coordinating Committee which led to the arrest of two on-duty Reservist Constables found in possession of property alleged to have been stolen during the incidents of looting of businesses in Soweto.

“It is further alleged that the two suspects were found off-loading suspected stolen property from a state vehicle,” the NatJOINTS said.

In response to reports of armed community members retaliating against protesters, the NatJOINTS emphasised and reminded the public that although persons are entitled to protect their property and lives, the right to life is protected in the Constitution; and can only be infringed in extremely limited circumstances, in order to, inter alia, protect the life or bodily integrity of the defender.

The NatJOINTS commended the collaboration between the police and community through established platforms such as Community Policing Forums and Community in Blue. The public is urged to continue reporting crime on the Crime Stop number 08600 10111. – SAnews.gov.za