Report reveals 2021 unrest was not related to Zuma’s incarceration

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The Human Rights Commission says its report on the 2021 unrest has received no evidence that it was sparked by the former president Jacob Zuma going to jail for contempt of court. Both the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights released their reports on the matter in Durban.

The unrest, that claimed more than 350 lives, also caused major economic disruptions.

The Human Rights Commission says in its report that the 2021 unrest was well orchestrated.  Major highways and critical economic routes were blocked, factories, malls and warehouses looted and set alight. Commissioner Philile Ntuli says while it coincided with former president Jacob Zuma going to jail, there is no evidence  linking the two.

“And it was quite clear that from December 2020 up until the unrest there were various security threats, red alerts as well as orange alerts, on the security of the state, including protests against foreign nationals, including issues on the highways. The blockages of the N3 and the N2 by alleged groups linked to truck drivers.”

What emerged from both reports, is that the unrest was fuelled by the deep inequality in South African society as well as the economic hardships the COVID-19 pandemic brought about.

The Human Rights Commission’s recommendations outline steps government must take to prevent a recurrence of the 2021 unrest and to hold government accountable.

Shine programme

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