- Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has described the unrest in the country as a failed insurrection.
- He implied that top ANC figures could have been among the instigators of the unrest.
- He added that the government was reviewing evidence linked to the instigators.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has described the unrest in the country as "a high up accumulation of anarchy, at the highest level".
In an interview with BBC HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur, Mbalula pointed to controversial ANC figure, Carl Niehaus, as an instigator of the violence that swept across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
"There are those we know at a political level are Carl Niehaus… and some other people around him," Mbalula said.
However, he was not able to share evidence showing Niehaus' involvement.
Police initially said 12 people were being investigated for instigating the unrest.
Six people have been arrested. One of the alleged instigators, former DJ Ngizwe Mchunu, appeared in the Randburg Magistrate's Court in Gauteng on Wednesday.
Speaking to News24 on Thursday afternoon, Niehaus vowed to take legal action against Mbalula.
Niehaus, whose ANC membership is currently suspended, said it was time to teach Mbalula a lesson for always making defamatory statements against him.
Claiming to be represented by Mabuza Attorneys, Niehaus said his lawyers were writing to Mbalula, asking him to retract his statements and apologise publicly within 48 hours. If the transport minister did not heed this call, Niehaus and his lawyers would file an urgent application to sue Mbalula.
Niehaus slammed Mbalula for going on an international platform to tarnish his reputation. He said the move was absurd and unacceptable.
"You could see the surprise and discomfort from the interviewer, who warned him that he must be very careful. I've not been charged with any...and he [Mbalula] still proceeded with his approach."
Mbalula said the unrest had all the characteristics of an "attempt at undermining the democratic state" and had been well-orchestrated.
"Was it an insurrection? No. Was there an attempt? Yes," he said.
Mbalula said the evidence supporting the government's theory that an insurrection was behind the unrest was "overwhelming".
"There is evidence, and that's being examined by the authorities."
Mbalula admitted that state capture had weakened organs of state and their capacity to intervene, saying the government should have responded to the unrest sooner.
However, he stressed, the unrest was isolated to only parts of the country, with the majority of South Africans just "standing by and watching".
"They were defeated by the power of the people and later by the decisive action of the government," he said.
The transport minister blamed societal ills, such as unemployment, which played a role in the unrest, on the legacy of apartheid.