People loot an area near a burning warehouse after violence erupted following the jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma, in Durban, South Africa, July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Rogan Ward
People loot an area near a burning warehouse after violence erupted following the jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma, in Durban, South Africa, July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

The DA says it will lay charges of treason and terrorism against the alleged ANC instigators of the unrest that led to wide-spread looting and destruction in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.

“The DA has seen WhatsApp chats between individuals who have identified themselves as being part of a number of ANC branches in KwaZulu-Natal whose messages appear to indicate their intentions to destabilise and remove the current government,” Adv Glynnis Breytenbach, DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, said in a statement on Friday.

Under South African law, treason is defined as any conduct unlawfully committed by a person owing allegiance to a state with the intention of overthrowing the government; coercing the government by violence into any action or inaction; violating, threatening or endangering the existence, independence or security of the country; and changing its constitutional structure.

The DA says that the following messages from the individuals in the WhatsApp group makes it clear that their intentions were to “overthrow” the incumbent government and coerce it through violence:

  • “If it means everything must burn then that must be”;
  • “Let those in power summon him so that he can hear our pleas and complains [sic] as the ANC”;
  • “We are the once [sic] that put him there, we are also the ones that will remove him”; and
  • “Let it burn it is on now comrades”.

The DA believes that these messages show that the instigators “intended to commit acts of terrorism and went about it in a very methodical way”.

Terrorism under South African law refers to any acts which involves the systematic, repeated and arbitrary use of violence by any means or method; cause the destruction of or substantial damage to any property, natural resource, or the environmental or cultural heritage, whether public or private; is designed or calculated to cause serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, or the delivery of any such service, facility or system, whether public or private; and which is committed, in whole or in part, for the purpose of the advancement of an individual or collective political, religious, ideological, or philosophical motive, objective, cause or undertaking.

“There can be no other course for the DA than to lay charges of treason and terrorism against these individuals who showed a complete lack of regard for the lives they were endangering and the livelihoods they would destroy in their ill-considered attempt at overthrowing President Cyril Ramaphosa and their own ANC government,” said Breytenbach.

“Not only have they left thousands of families without the means to earn a living for many years to come, but their actions have led to deaths of at least a 117 people and have left many more with food insecurity the past week. Their actions are reprehensible, and these individuals should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

President Ramaphosa said in Durban today that security forces are pursuing certain suspects they have identified as being instigators of the violence.

DON’T MISS CARTE BLANCHE – Sun 18 July in SA, Tues 20 July if you’re abroad

Hunger, landlessness, service delivery woes or political support? Or pure lawlessness disguised as protest action? CARTE BLANCHE investigates the looting and violence that gripped KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this week as protesters turned into looters and, in some cases, instigators of death – all seemingly in the name of former president Jacob Zuma who had started serving a 15-month prison sentence imposed by the Constitutional Court. As parts of the country burned, and the SANDF tried to restore order and supply chains, citizens queued for basic supplies while the country reeled in shock. (Producer: Nicky Troll | Presenter: Macfarlane Moleli)

Watch the show overseas on Showmax International | Watch in SA on DStv Now