Role of spooks during July 2021 riots questioned

The role of the State Security Agency during the July unrest has been questioned. File Picture.

The role of the State Security Agency during the July unrest has been questioned. File Picture.

Published Feb 12, 2024


The failure of intelligence agencies during the July 2021 riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has been questioned during public hearings on amendments to intelligence laws.

The ad hoc committee was in KwaZulu-Natal where communities said they were concerned about the fact that intelligence agencies failed to pick up information to help prevent the looting and violence that left more than 350 people dead.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele and former minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo had publicly blamed each other when the looting happened in 2021.

Cele had claimed he did not receive any intelligence from the State Security Agency (SSA) about the impending riots.

However, Dlodlo had denied this and said they had shared information with Cele and it was up to the police on how they used it because spooks do not have poilicing powers.

The Sydney Mufamadi and Prof. Sandy Africa reports also said there was intelligence failure during the unrest in 2021.

The South African Human Rights Commission also released its report into the July unrest and they blamed intelligence failure for the events of July that year.

Chairperson of the ad hoc committee Jerome Maake said communities in KwaZulu-Natal wanted an overhaul of the spooks.

The committee is processing the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill (GILAB).

The committee was in Pongola and eThekwini over the weekend and they will be in Pietermaritzburg on Monday.

However, during public hearings over the weekend questions were raised about the role of intelligence agencies during the July unrest.

“Some residents of eThekwini raised concerns about the effectiveness of the intelligence services in light of events such as the July 2021 unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng,” said Maake.

“Some residents also said that the definitions in the Bill are vague and give the Minister too much power. Other inputs proposed strengthening the capacity of the Defence Intelligence and South African Police Service Crime Intelligence Division to curb the influx of illegal immigrants into the country.”

The committee has conducted public hearings in Limpopo, Gauteng and was now in KZN.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence Imtiaz Fazel and South African Police Service’s Crime Intelligence Unit also made presentations to the committee last December.

The head of the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (Nicoc), Gab Msimanga, also called for more independence from the SSA.

He complained about interference by previous ministers in the work of Nicoc.

The Mufamadi report had also said SSA was riven by factions and had been involved in factional battles of the ruling party.

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