More than 40 ‘July unrest instigators’ still to be arrested, says Hawks chief

  • A total of 46 “July unrest instigators'” have been arrested so far.
  • Hawks boss Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya said authorities have reached the halfway mark in the number of arrests still to come.
  • The Hawks would not say if the unrest was a planned and coordinated attempted insurrection, as suggested by President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

While Hawks boss Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya kept silent on whether the July unrest was planned and coordinated, he did say authorities had only reached the halfway mark of those they were still planning to arrest.

On Tuesday, Lebeya led the Hawks’ first media briefing since taking the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation reins in June 2018.

During the briefing, Lebeya, who focused on high-profile matters and successes, briefly mentioned the July unrest and the so-called instigators arrested since the week-long spree of violence and looting that engulfed parts of the country in 2021.

“With regard to the July unrest instigators, it shall be recalled that the DPCI [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation] has reported to have secured the attendance of eight instigators at court last year,” Lebeya said.

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“The DPCI never stopped investigating. In fact, multi-disciplinary teams were formed to investigate. The DPCI and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) are satisfied that the investigation is ripe; hence the Hawks are landing. As we speak, 35 suspects have appeared in court recently. The case is remanded to 26 August 2022 at Durban Magistrate’s Court.”

Lebeya said that a total of 43 alleged instigators had been arrested so far.

He said the Hawks had just passed the 50% mark with “regards to arresting those who played a role” in instigating the unrest.

A spokesperson for the Hawks, Thandi Mbambo, confirmed on Tuesday that 46 alleged instigators had been arrested.

Mbambo said 11 people were arrested on Tuesday – 10 in Gauteng and one in the Western Cape.

Mbambo said the 10 would face charges of conspiracy to commit public violence, incitement to public violence and arson.

They will appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

She said the alleged instigator from the Western Cape faces similar charges and will appear on Friday, alongside the other accused.

Lebeya said he would not be naming the individuals who were still to be arrested – and, in response to a question about why no high-profile arrests had been made as yet, he said the directorate did not rank any suspects.

Godfrey Lebeya

Hawks boss advocate Godfrey Lebeya.

News24 previously reported that, at the height of the unrest, Minister of Police Bheki Cele said 12 high-profile instigators were identified as the masterminds.

He later told the South African Human Rights Commission that the list, which came from a member of the public, could not be verified.

July unrest | One year on, SA still doesn’t know who masterminded the chaos

Lebeya also appeared to dodge a question as to whether the unrest was a planned and coordinated attack to destabilise the country – and, if so, whether the Hawks had identified the culprits.

Addressing the nation during the unrest, President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was clear the events were a planned attack on the country.

“It is clear now that the events of the past week were nothing less than a deliberate, coordinated and well-planned attack on our democracy. The constitutional order of our country is under threat,” Ramaphosa said.

The president used the word insurrection three times during his address.

Ramaphosa went as far as to say that the looting and violence was “a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of our economy and the provision of services to our people”.

Cele echoed similar sentiments, as did State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, who said planned attacks on vital infrastructure had been prevented.