#UnrestSA: Steenhuisen requests meeting with Ramaphosa, Cele, Dlodlo and opposition leaders

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DA leader John Steenhuisen (Jan Gerber, News24)
DA leader John Steenhuisen (Jan Gerber, News24)
  • John Steenhuisen wrote to Cyril Ramaphosa to request a meeting with Bheki Cele and Ayanda Dlodlo, as well as opposition leaders.
  • Steenhuisen wants to get to the bottom of what happened in the days leading to the unrest.
  • Of particular concern is the discrepancy between Cele and Dlodlo regarding intelligence reports.

DA leader John Steenhuisen wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request a meeting to establish precisely what happened in the week leading up to the looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The meeting would include Ramaphosa, opposition leaders, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Police Minister Bheki Cele. 

"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," Steenhuisen said in a statement on Friday.

Cele denied the State Security Agency (SSA) provided the police with an intelligence report before the unrest, but Dlodlo said she did.

"This discrepancy needs to be cleared up," Steenhuisen said.

According to Steenhuisen, the DA's latest information is that the SSA indeed presented an "orange" notice on 30 June and that subsequent briefings happened daily, 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?" Steenhuisen said.

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.

He said the meeting he requested would allow Dlodlo to set out, for the benefit of those outside the governing party, the timeline of events leading up to the violence and looting, and the details of the reports and briefings that were given to Natjoints.

It would also offer 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.

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

He wrote in his letter to Ramaphosa that this information needs to be dealt with 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," he wrote.

Earlier this week, Steenhuisen said the DA will bring an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to obtain the disputed intelligence report. 

Meanwhile, Parliament will conduct an inquiry into the violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The committees overseeing the security cluster met on Friday.

They decided to refer the matter to the Speaker, Thandi Modise, and National Council of Provinces chairperson, Amos Masondo, for a decision on the committee's composition.

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