Parliamentarians miss the boat in July riots amid focus …

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Bongani Mkhize can no longer do his job – drive the bus. He was shot in the back on July 14 while running away from vigilante bullets after his car was stopped by a security company in Wentworth, eThekwini. After he was shot, he could not get up and hid. He called his brother repeatedly to help him. Finally, the brother reached him with a subway police escort, as the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) announced on Tuesday.

Mkhize was taken to a public hospital around 8:00 pm, but was told that a doctor would not see him until the next day because of the “heavy workload”. He thought it was a joke. But he was left with a bullet in him for 17 hours.

“Nurses kept giving me pills and telling me the doctor wouldn’t come until the next day,” he testified.

“[The bullet] was poisoning because it spread in the abdomen, ”he said in isiZulu through an interpreter. “They told me that one of my intestines was damaged and that they had to create a so-called stoma to help me defecate.”

Mkhize has another appointment at the public hospital on January 31, 2022 to see if the stoma can be removed.

Police have not received any information about the complaint Mkhize filed at Wentworth Police Station; no police officer came to the hospital.

When he called the investigator, he was told that there was nothing to report as the case file, one of many, had not yet been investigated. The case also included the vandalism of his car, which had been vandalized in its final salvage, with both windshields smashed, seats and tires “punctured” and the roof damaged.

It was Day 7 of the SAHRC investigative hearings into the July public unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which broke out after ex-President Jacob Zuma was jailed for contempt for court disregard for the state arrest commission. He served about two months of his 15-month prison term before being released on medical parole on September 5.

“I want the perpetrators to be punished. And I want the government to support us because some of us have lost our jobs, ”Mkhize said.

“I was very sad. However, since I have my family who are very supportive of me, I have accepted the situation. I know that it won’t help me to continue to be sad. ”

Mkhize’s statement highlights the devastation and lingering impact of those eight days in July on individuals, families and communities.

This is in stark contrast to the government’s emphasis on supporting corporations and their specialist risk insurer, Sasria; quantify the economic impact in such a way that it saved almost one percentage point of South Africa’s gross domestic product; of briefings to reassure investors and diplomats; and from arbitrary police reactions in the midst of a lack of intelligence.

This attitude reappeared in parliament – on two days in different houses.

“We could have done more. We have learned our lessons, ”Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale replied in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

And that meant getting the police ready to deal with threats that were making the rounds, as IFP chief Whip Narend Singh put it, of possible looting this weekend with special offers starting with what is known as Black Friday.

Mathale also named the arrests of 17 so-called instigators – all but one on bail – as part of the SAPS campaign.

“The investigation is ongoing. The possibility of further arrests is not excluded. ”

On August 19, a total of 857 cases with 1,549 defendants in connection with the violence in July were reported to the parliamentary judicial committee.

When the public disorder and violence were discussed for the last time in parliament in July after a spate of committee visits to both provinces in mid-August, the sessions were over entangled in politics and finger pointing.

In questions and answers from Security Ministers on Wednesday, Minister for International Relations, Naledi Pandor, praised the “significant impact of the violence in July on our economy” but also the immediate steps that have been taken to improve transport links to southern Africa and elsewhere restore.

While Parliament’s Police Committee discussed draft rules of procedure for the hearings on the public unrest in July on August 17, these have yet to be finalized. Notwithstanding the holding of hearings, Parliament will have a break at the end of the year on December 10th.

While the July unrest caused “great concern” to the government and South Africans, “it is not the first time the country has seen unrest. We had terrible riots under apartheid. This doesn’t improve what happened [in July]”.

Responding to IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa’s concern that this period showed an “undesirable” amalgamation of political considerations with a judicial decision, Pandor said she had no evidence of such a link.

“I don’t have an investigation report that makes a seamless connection,” she said.

A day earlier, at the Ministerial Conference of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the economic impact, the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina, highlighted how the ministry paid tens of millions of rand to support companies, and how overall 40,215 jobs were created were saved through targeted interventions.

No, she couldn’t comment on whether the ANC factionality was behind the July public unrest, the arrests, or the deaths.

“Let’s wait for the processes to unfold. As for the consequences, we are still waiting for SAPS, ”said the deputy minister.

But the police front sends mixed messages at best.

While the then minister in the Khumbudzo Ntshavheni presidency claimed 337 lives on July 22nd – 79 in Gauteng and 258 in KwaZulu-Natal – the national commissioner of the SAPS, Lieutenant General Khehla Sitole, told the SAHRC on Monday that he could not name a death toll .

“What is preventing us from finding a final number [is] the investigation procedures have different timeframes. ”

He said the SA police force was “overwhelmed” and pointed out that this was the intention of those who organized the deadly public unrest in July.

“It would be right to say that we haven’t done enough,” said the National Police Commissioner.

But the SAPS had sufficient resources to erect 11 roadblocks. This emerged from the testimony of the provincial commissioner of Gauteng Province, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela.

He told the SAHRC that police viewed the information leak as a “threat,” citing how details of the 11 roadblocks had surfaced on social media, claiming they were set up to target people on their way to Nkandla stop while the clock was ticking at 7 a.m. July deadline for Zuma to begin his prison sentence.

“That wasn’t right. The goal was to address the Covid regulations that require us to put up roadblocks to manage movement between the provinces, ”Mawela said. At the time, rising infections meant the re-imposition of travel restrictions focused on moving in and out of Gauteng.

Mawela also told the SAHRC that no warnings of possible disruptions had been received, despite the Provincial Intelligence Agency’s Crime Education and State Security Coordinating Committee issuing daily early warning reports, monthly and weekly intelligence summaries of risk and threat assessments.

Just as KwaZulu-Natal was without its permanent provincial SAPS commissioner – Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi was on paternity leave – Gauteng also had an acting commissioner. Mawela was on sick leave from June 14th to August 16th.

Part of the fiddling seemed to go as far as the cabinet.

When police minister Bheki Cele raised concerns about the behavior of SAPS, it was left to him to deal with it, according to former defense minister and head of the cabinet security ministerial cluster Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, now spokeswoman for the National Assembly.

“I think he does [Cele] was embarrassed. I didn’t think hammering was necessary. Suffice it to say the reception was not good, ”she testified at the SAHRC hearings.

Cele should have testified on Monday but apologized as he was attending the event Interpol General Assembly from November 23rd to 25th in Istanbul, Turkey.

He is expected to have another appointment with the SAHRC, whose investigative hearings will lead to a number of recommendations and guidelines.

While Parliament’s Police Committee discussed draft rules of procedure for the hearings on the public unrest in July on August 17, these have yet to be finalized. Notwithstanding the holding of hearings, Parliament will have a break at the end of the year on December 10th.

And that means that normal people like Mkhize and who knows how many more only have the Human Rights Commission to make sure that they are not left out in the rain – and that alone. DM


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