SAHRC report highlights SAPS failure to curb 2021 unrest

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The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says in its report on the July 2021 unrest that the South African Police Service (SAPS) failed to detect the planning and execution of the widespread violence.

The unrest, which began in KwaZulu-Natal and spread to other provinces, resulted in over 350 deaths and an estimated R50 billion economic loss.

SAHRC Commissioner Philile Ntuli briefed the media on the findings, revealing shortcomings in SAPS’s ability to address the unrest.

Ntuli pointed to a combination of factors contributing to these failures, including under-resourcing and a lack of capacity within crime intelligence.

Ntuli says, “A combination of factors appeared to have caused these shortcomings, evidence tabled before the panel points to the under-resourcing and the consequent lack of capacity within crime intelligence. Evidently, there has also been a breakdown in coherent communication within the South African Police Service between crime intelligence, the National Commissioner of Police, relevant operational divisions and the Minister of Police.”

The SAHRC’s findings contribute to the ongoing discussions and evaluations surrounding the events of July 2021, aiming to improve governance, law enforcement, and crisis response in the country.

SAHRC, CRL Rights Commission launch 2021 July unrest Investigative hearings reports:

Shine programme

SAHRC acting chairperson, Fatima Chohan, also called on ordinary South Africans to sign a pledge to participate in a programme called Shine – Social Harmony through National Effort.

“Shine challenges us all to make small but meaningful changes. For instance, making a national practice of simply greeting each other, is a good way to start this journey. Shine requires all of us working together in a national effort to make somebody’s day every day. To work to bring harmony into our lives through positive dialogue and learning.”

Government has 60 days to respond to the report.

KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi says they have already started implementing the recommendations that emerged shortly after the unrest.