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Police are shown facing off against looters in civil unrest that gripped Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in July 2021. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU
Police are shown facing off against looters in civil unrest that gripped Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in July 2021. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU

The failure to apprehend suspects involved in the incitement of violence and crime during the July unrest last year is a reflection of failed governance, according to the Active Citizens Movement (ACM).

The NGO said it was concerned that a year after the deaths, destruction and looting that engulfed KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, “the political and social conditions in our country still remain the same or indeed have deteriorated even further”.

More than 300 people were killed in protests that were sparked by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court, while damage to property and business is estimated at more than R50bn.

“The instigators of the violence have still not been charged — this increases the possibility of a recurrence of civil unrest,” ACM said.

“The lack of arrests and action against those who incited and encouraged violent criminal activity is a reflection of so many failed aspects of governance ranging from service delivery, public administration, to policing and justice.”

It called for the criminal cases against those charged for the murders in Phoenix, north of Durban, to be expedited to allow families to get closure and for communities to get to the truth of the matter.

“The insurrection unmasked great inequity and there has been little effort to gather narratives from communities to establish some way forward.

“While the SA Human Rights Commission hearings shed light on the violence, it may have overlooked the impact on ordinary citizens.

“What we have noted is that we are still a racially-fractured society with a breakdown in trust and morale among people who have to live and work together. Social cohesion that existed among communities has broken down and requires much determination and commitment from all stakeholders to rebuild.

“Disruption to the food chain was not limited to the period of unrest. It continues even now, a year later. Overcrowding of available malls, costs to get there, the ongoing increases in food and fuel have caused layers of trauma and difficulty for individuals and households.

“It is imperative that as a nation we address the issue of violence in all forms. To deal with violence we must talk about impunity and strengthen accountability at all levels. Recent tavern deaths in Eastern Cape and killings in Orlando, Katlehong and Pietermaritzburg indicate that brutal criminality is indeed worsening.”

Still, the ACM said the resolve and solidarity that communities and NGOs have shown in coming together to provide protection, food and other relief and support measures across race and colour lines did give South Africans hope.

TimesLIVE

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