Zuma insurrection: Who knew what when? - John Steenhuisen

DA leader calls for meeting between Ramaphosa and opposition parties to discuss missing intelligence report

DA requests meeting between opposition parties, President Ramaphosa and ministers about missing intelligence report

I have today written to President Ramaphosa to request a meeting between himself, the leaders of the opposition parties, the Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo and the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, in order to establish precisely what happened in the week leading up to the looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, and later in Gauteng too.

Specifically, the meeting should clarify who knew what about the violence that was to come, when they knew it and what they then did about it. Minister Dlodlo is on record having said that she handed an intelligence report to law enforcement warning of possible unrest action days before it started, and Minister Cele is on record denying that he ever had sight of such a report. This discrepancy needs to be cleared up.

Our latest information is that such a notice - given “orange” status by State Security - was indeed presented to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) on the 30th of June, and that subsequent briefings happened daily after that, warning of the threat to shopping centres and main transport routes. If this is the case, and if Minister Cele says that he had no sight of such a notice or briefings, then the question is: who took the decision to disregard a notice deemed serious enough to be given orange status by State Security, or to deliberately withhold it from the Police Minister, and why?

Crime Intelligence and SAPS were caught napping, and when they eventually did respond, it was insufficient and disjointed. If it turns out that this was because a credible intelligence report was either ignored or concealed, those responsible must face the consequences. They certainly cannot continue to serve on the Executive.

Over 330 South Africans died in the violence, tens of billions of rands were lost to theft and damage to property and infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods are in peril and these events have been widely described as an attempted insurrection. The response has to be swift and decisive, and all parties need to be informed and on board.

The meeting I have requested with the President will offer Minister Dlodlo the opportunity to set out, for the benefit of those outside the governing party, the timeline of events leading up to the violence and looting, as well as the details of the reports and briefings that were given to NATJOINTS. It will also offer Minister Cele the opportunity to explain how much of this he was privy to, and why it took Crime Intelligence and SAPS so long to react.

It is critical that these questions are not posed and answered behind the cloak and dagger veil of secrecy that has characterised the security cluster to date, and which was heavily criticised in the Mufamadi high level panel report.

What happened in KZN and Gauteng was an attack on the citizens of our country. They deserve nothing less than full transparency and accountability.

Text of the letter:

30 July 2021

Dear President Ramaphosa


I write to you to request an urgent meeting between yourself and the leaders of the opposition parties, as well as the Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo, and the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele.

While much of the timeline that lead up to the looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is still unclear, what we do know is that there is a glaring discrepancy between Minister Dlodlo and Minister Cele’s version of events. Here I refer specifically to Minister Dlodlo’s assertion that her department presented an intelligence notice to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) warning of the likelihood of unrest days before it started, and Minister Cele’s denial that he was shown such a notice.

We have subsequently learnt that this notice was given an orange status by State Security and presented to NATJOINTS on the 30th of June, and that it was followed up with daily briefings outlining possible threats to shopping centres and transport routes. However, it appears that this was not acted on by Crime Intelligence and SAPS until it was already too late.

The Police Minister denies ever having seen such a notice. It is critical that we all understand what happened to this notice after its presentation at NATJOINTS. If indeed it was withheld from the Police Minister, who took the decision to do so? And if it was presented to the Police Minister, why was it not acted on, and why did he deny its existence?

This information needs to be dealt with out in the open, and particularly in full view of opposition parties. We cannot afford a perpetuation of the cloak and dagger secrecy highlighted in the Mufamadi high level panel report. I respectfully request that you summons both Ministers Dlodlo and Cele to explain to yourself and opposition leaders what happened, so that we can find the one true version events from these two contradicting stories and be given the opportunity to provide suggestions on how to ensure the events we witnessed do not happen again.

Yours sincerely,

John Steenhuisen MP

Leader of the Official Opposition Parliament of RSA


Statement issued by Democratic Alliance leader, John Steenhuisen, 30 July 2021