As many as 20 suspected instigators of the July unrest were arrested Thursday in various locations in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, North West, Free State, Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation said it has made significant inroads in “probing alleged instigators in the incitement of public violence through social media and other platforms during the period of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and other parts of the county”.
During the unrest, sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court, more than 350 people lost their lives.
Looting and damage to property ran into multiple billions of rand, while 150 000 jobs were placed at risk during the violent unrest that began on 9 July 2021 and lasted for nine days.
“The ongoing prosecution-guided investigation resulted in the arrest of 20 persons of interest on 11 August 2022,” said Brigadier Thandi Mbambo.
The suspected instigators, who have not yet been named, were arrested by a multidisciplinary team that included the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation, Serious Corruption Investigation, Serious Commercial Crime Investigation, and Digital Forensic Investigation officers.
The team also included Priority Crime Management Centre (Hawks), Crime Intelligence, National Intervention Unit, Public Order Policing, Tactical Response Team, as well as Local Criminal Record Centre members.
The suspects are expected to appear in the Durban Central Magistrate’s Court on Friday (12 August 2022).
They face charges ranging from conspiracy to commit public violence, incitement to commit public violence, and incitement to commit arson.
The National Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya hailed the investigation and prosecution team for their meticulous work and assured the South African citizens that the team under his command will continue to work without fear, favour or prejudice.
Brigadier Mbambo said more arrests were imminent.