Violent protests due to leaders who don’t listen - Mahlobo

accreditation
David Mahlobo (Lulama Zenzile, Netwerk24)
David Mahlobo (Lulama Zenzile, Netwerk24)
File photo

Johannesburg - If leaders did their jobs and listened to the people they served, protests would not escalate to the point where security services needed to step in, State Security Minister David Mahlobo said on Monday.

South Africa’s violent history had made protests a norm for citizens, he said at a seminar hosted by the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, under the theme “Can state intelligence help prevent violent protests?”

Since the start of Fees Must Fall protests to demand free higher education, violence had reached a point where national security services were brought in.

“We have seen untold levels of violence. Surely this cannot be accepted?

 “If someone burns a school, that will be felt for many generations to come. We already don’t have as many universities as we need.”

Mahlobo said protesting students were raising genuine and important concerns, and the country should rally behind them as it was a matter of national interest.

Mahlobo said the main reason behind any major protest was almost always a lack of communication and action on the part of a leader.

“Before we have security problems, we have governance problems.

“If there is proper communication with the people and government, security services would not need to be called in,” he said.

Peace-loving people

Mahlobo said South Africans were generally peace-loving people. When protests escalated and became violent, it was usually due to “rogue elements” operating within groups raising genuine concerns through protest. 

“They are raising issues, but those in government must respond to those issues in time.”

University of Johannesburg Professor Jane Duncan said the security personnel deployed to deal with student protests were making matters worse.

“We shouldn’t rush to label these threats as national security threats. Are we at that stage? I would argue that no argument has been made that we are.”

She said crime intelligence, rather than state intelligence, should investigate protests. Treating violence on campus as a national security matter would only add fuel to the fire.

The State Security Agency needed to do more to convince the public that it was working in their best interests.

“It has taken secrecy to unimaginable extremes. The public can’t be expected to trust the State Security Agency when its rules are not known,” she said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
After the opening weekend of URC action, what did you make of the South African struggles?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
It exposed the quality of South African rugby...
41% - 689 votes
There were positives to take
7% - 117 votes
We shouldn't read too much into one weekend
17% - 285 votes
It will take the SA sides time to adjust to the new competition
34% - 570 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.05
-0.6%
Rand - Pound
20.58
-0.4%
Rand - Euro
17.57
-0.4%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.94
-0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.14
-0.3%
Gold
1,741.31
-0.5%
Silver
22.40
-1.0%
Palladium
1,957.32
-0.6%
Platinum
979.00
-0.5%
Brent Crude
79.53
+1.8%
Top 40
57,778
-0.0%
All Share
64,215
+0.0%
Resource 10
57,289
-0.8%
Industrial 25
82,776
-0.1%
Financial 15
14,463
+1.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE