Date: Jul 12, 2021 Type: Country:

South Africa: Cele must do more to stop the violence and looting

Amnesty International South Africa (AISA) calls on the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to ensure that there are enough resources on the ground to stop the deadly violence and looting that is taking place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

“We are concerned by reports of a lack of police response or presence in many of the hotspot areas where violence and looting continue unabated. We understand that it is not always possible for the police to be everywhere and that the looting happens sporadically, but there is clearly a need for more boots on the ground in order to stop the anarchy and bring an end to this lawlessness,” says AISA’s Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed. 

“While the low level of police visibility and presence is worrying and must be dealt with, police must comply with international and national laws of standard when it comes to the use of force, and we caution against the excessive use of non-lethal weapons.”

“We recognise that people are suffering, there is massive inequality and people are hungry and unemployed, and that this has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, violence and looting is not the answer and sustainable solutions need to be found to address this.”

“We also condemn the reported attacks on journalists who are out in the streets trying to cover what is happening. Journalists must be allowed to do their jobs without fear and these attacks on the media are a clear sign  that the situation is degenerating and swift action by the authorities is needed,” adds Mohamed.

 

Background

Protests purporting to be about the call for the release of Zuma from prison have descended into looting and violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and continued on 12 July, with many services brought to a standstill. 

Police confirmed that as of 8:30am on 12 July 2021, 219 people have been arrested - 123 in KwaZulu-Natal and 96 in Gauteng. Seven people have died.

Section 17 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution states that: “Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions”.

Zuma handed himself over to authorities in KwaZulu-Natal on the evening of 8 July 2021. This after the Constitutional Court found that he was guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison.

Zuma approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 6 July in a bid to have the execution of that order stayed, pending his application for the rescission of the Constitutional Court’s contempt ruling. The high court dismissed the matter on 9 July 2021. The Constitutional Court will hear his rescission application on 12 July 2021.

Since handing himself over, #FreeZumaNow protests have erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and have spread to Gauteng.  

In some areas police have had to use stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons to try to control protesting residents.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Genevieve Quintal, Media and Communications Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0)64 890 9224; genevieve.quintal@amnesty.org.za

Public Document 

****************************************

Amnesty International South Africa office, 97 Oxford Road, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, 2196

press@amnesty.org