Six of the alleged instigators of the looting and acts of sabotage in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have been arrested, among them former radio personality Ngizwe Mchunu, who handed himself over to police on Monday.
This comes as security forces continue to brace for an anticipated spate of attacks on police stations and weapons depots by supporters of former president Jacob Zuma as part of a second wave of violence.
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told a media briefing on Monday that three of the people arrested had been remanded in custody and would make bail applications later this week.
Describing the attacks last week as “an attempt at an insurrection”’ Ntshavenhi said investigators were expected to make further arrests of individuals involved in planning the “orchestrated plan to undermine us” in coming days.
She said the death toll from the wave of riots and arson attacks now stood at 215, with three more people killed in KwaZulu-Natal since Friday. No new incidents of looting had taken place in the province, which was now “stable”’.
Mchunu was arrested by police after he handed himself over in Durban. Mchunu had been vocal in calling on Zuma’s supporters to take to the streets in protest against the jailing of Zuma, along with a network of social media influencers and minor media personalities in KwaZulu-Natal.
Former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede, a key supporter of Zuma, on Monday laid a charge at the Inanda police station over a number of voice notes and messages on social media linking her to the devastating violence and arson attacks around the city.
In a television interview, Gumede said she had approached police to clear her name because she was “angry” about the social media material, which made claims she said were false. Gumede said she had not been arrested by the police and did not face any charges.
Asked whether Gumede was among the 12 people believed to have been behind the riots, Ntshavheni said she was not aware of who the suspects were.
“Law enforcement agencies have not shared with us who the possible suspects are. They only share with us the names of those who have been arrested and brief us on court appearances,” she said.
Ntshavhen said the N2 and N3 highways were now open after the violence and that security forces were protecting truck convoys bringing food and medicine into KwaZulu-Natal.
Both the Richards Bay and Durban harbours were now operating, while citrus and other cold chain products were being processed and loaded for export, she added.