Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula ‘very confused’ at lack of police intel during July unrest

On Saturday 10 July this year, as violent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng started to intensify, former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a telephone discussion, decided against immediately deploying the army. 

This decision — Mapisa-Nqakula told a South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hearing on the violence on Monday — was made without her ministry having been furnished with any intelligence report to advise her, or Ramaphosa, in any way. 

“In a discussion between myself and the commander-in-chief [Ramaphosa] it was agreed that it was not yet necessary to employ the South African National Defence Force in cooperation with the SAPS [South African Police Service] to maintain law and order,” Mapisa-Nqakula told the inquiry.

Under questioning by advocate Smanga Sethene, one of the SAHRC’s panellists, Mapisa-Nqakula — who is now speaker of the National Assembly after Ramaphosa dropped her from his cabinet in a reshuffle following the July violence — took exception when he said she was being evasive in some of her responses.

Sethene asked her whether she still maintained that police officials had not cooperated with the defence force in KwaZulu-Natal. 

“When the defence force arrived here [KwaZulu-Natal], there was no cooperation whatsoever from the people responsible here,” Mapisa-Nqakula said, mentioning provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi by name.

The former defence minister said Mkhwanazi was reluctant to furnish her delegation with details of the situation in the province. 

She recalled how she, and other senior government officials, including the minister of police, Bheki Cele, “were very confused” and hoping to receive information from the police but that “did not happen”.

Her evidence was the latest indicator of the apparent discord between state security agencies in dealing with the eight days of violence triggered by protests over former president Jacob Zuma’s incarceration for contempt of court.

But Mapisa-Nqakula said the fact that she and the president did not have an intelligence report did not mean it did not exist. 

“Obviously, your intelligence operators, who by then have done their coordinations and assessment, will then come and inform you if it is necessary for you to know,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

The unrest claimed 359 lives and caused an estimated R50-billion in damage in the two provinces.

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Protected Disclosures Act: How did whistleblowing law go wrong?

Current legislation mainly protects employees and those who make allegations anonymously and offers too little protection for witnesses

Covid-19 hospital admissions on the rise in Gauteng as fourth...

Most of the admissions are of unvaccinated and younger people, but there are fears of a spread to older people

South Africa Aids gains in danger as it grapples with...

Sex education will help prevent new HIV infections, expert says

I am not giving up, says rape survivor Jess Foord

Jes Foord told Lyse Comins that she believes she had to get the horrific ‘degree in rape’ so that she could help thousands of sexual violence victims through her nonprofit foundation
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×