KZN police chief Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi shoots from the hip at SAHRC hearings, says problem lies with society not policing

Had his follow-up appearance on Wednesday at the SA Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the July riots been some sort of morbid contest, KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi would have comfortably won.

KZN police chief Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi shoots from the hip at SAHRC hearings, says problem lies with society not policing
© Copyright (c) Daily Maverick , All Rights Reserved

Belligerent, determined and stubbornly defensive of his “men and women in blue”, career cop Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi shot from the hip while being questioned by the SA Human Rights Commission’s evidence leaders about the allegedly racially motivated murders and attempted murders in Phoenix at the time of the riots. 

His responses were characteristically blunt, one of the reasons the no-nonsense officer is known to be favoured by those under his command. 

“We are talking about 36 murders in Phoenix at this time, but in this financial year which started in April, to date, how many people were killed in Phoenix? You will be shocked that the number of murders in Phoenix is not coming anywhere close to the next door [neighbouring township], which is Inanda,” said Mkhwanazi. 

“Inanda is known for rapes and all these other crimes that you have. The very same communities that are crying about the murders that happened in Phoenix… slaughter each other every single day. 

“So, we ask ourselves a question, what is [the] problem? What must the police do? Yes, we take the blame. We fire the rest of the police because society doesn’t like them, employ new police officers… we are still going to get the same results until we get to the bottom of the problem. The problem is society. 

“You ask yourself…. Not that [I] am saying the death of a person is acceptable, but a lot of them died because they went out there to go loot and the [stampedes] killed them…. 

“The question is, what made the person leave the house to go and steal those groceries? Maybe it was driven by hunger, but was it supposed to be done like that? As a police officer I do not have answers…” 

At least 30 people, most of them black, were allegedly killed by Indian residents during the unrest that took place in Phoenix during the province-wide riots. 

Advocate Buang Jones had been leading evidence about the impromptu roadblocks erected around the mostly Indian township as alleged looters from nearby informal settlements and surrounding areas tried to enter the area, when Mkhwanazi gave his response. 

Some residents from surrounding areas appear to have been trying to pass through Phoenix as shortcuts to their homes, or trying to fill up their cars with petrol, as stations had run dry during the riots. 

Some of the alleged victims of the racial violence – several have already appeared before the commission – were allegedly severely assaulted at the roadblocks by vigilante groups, while others were allegedly murdered by these groups. Several community members have been arrested over the Phoenix violence, with the matters yet to come to trial. 

According to Mkhwanazi’s testimony, 281 people died in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of the unrest. The commission is, however, focusing on the alleged racial attacks in “Indian areas” such as Phoenix, Chatsworth and Pietermaritzburg’s Mountain Rise.  

On Tuesday, Mkhwanazi testified that the majority of the deaths in the province were as a result of looters scrambling for goods and being crushed in the process, or fighting among each other for stolen goods. The same was said by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala in a public statement issued shortly after the mayhem.  

Many of the rioters were drunk and armed with knives, guns and other weapons, such as rocks and bricks. 

The “overwhelmed” police – particularly the 18,000 in KwaZulu-Natal under Mkhwanazi’s command – have been severely criticised for their absence during the eight days of unrest, which left communities in townships and suburbs to defend themselves, their businesses and shopping centres via impromptu patrol groups, some of which still exist today with the blessing of local police stations.  

Such was the extent of the looting and the blockading of delivery routes that the province experienced R20-billion in damages and suffered shortages of food. Well over 100,000 people are estimated to have lost their jobs due to the riots, which also affected Gauteng to a lesser extent.  

When evidence leader advocate Smanga Sethene started questioning Mkhwanazi about the Phoenix roadblocks, Sethene implied, and then said, that roadblocks erected on public roads by citizens were illegal, that they should not have been there, and the deaths in Phoenix at those barricades could have been prevented. He wanted to know why police at the Phoenix police station had not removed the barricades and arrested those who had erected them. 

“[The police] did not fail in their constitutional mandate by failing to remove a barricade. The barricade couldn’t be stopped, it was there already,” responded Mkhwanazi.  

“What did police do to ensure there were no barricades erected?” asked Sethene.  

“I said yesterday there are over 1,000km [of] roads…” 

Mkhwanazi was determined: “The police were not in every metre of the streets. The majority of the barricades were erected without the police seeing the people who were erecting them. I drove through those barricades in the middle of the night… They were erected when the police were not there.” 

Sethene then asked about Mkhwanazi’s time as the acting national commissioner of the SAPS. Mkhwanazi turned to the commission chairperson, Andre Gaum. “Relevance of this question?” he asked.  

The question was “definitely not irrelevant”, said Gaum. Following some back and forth, and Sethene not so subtly threatening Mkhwanazi with the Commissions Act, a short break was decided on.  

The police were not in every metre of the streets. The majority of the barricades were erected without the police seeing the people who were erecting them. I drove through those barricades in the middle of the night… They were erected when the police were not there.

Upon return, both men ostensibly having received advice from cooler heads, Sethene attempted to reassure Mkhwanazi about not posing questions “that would get to the heart of the national security about the country”. 

The conversation then again turned to evidence given last week by former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. The commission had already addressed this with Mkhwanazi the previous day, asking him about Mapisa-Nqakula saying that he was “uncooperative” when the defence force was deployed to KZN to assist police with unrest control.  

“I did not understand where the former minister was taking that… ministers are not employed to run operations, so when [she] says to the commission she came to the province and I was not cooperative, I was confused – what was I supposed to cooperate with the minister on?” 

Both Mkhwanazi and the national police commissioner, Khehla Sitole, have been dismissive of the claims made by the political heads of the defence and police who believe the police officers did not consult them enough during the violence.   

Earlier in the day, Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, the national head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), known as the Hawks, testified virtually. 

The specialised investigative unit is leading the probe into the alleged “instigators” behind the riots. 

Lebeya told the commission that there were 24 matters of potential instigators that were “registered”. Twelve of these were criminal dockets, and of those, seven had already appeared at court and were awaiting further investigation or trial.  

“The other 12, they are still on the stage of inquiry, so we have yet not registered a case docket. So, these are matters we are seized with.” 

Ongoing investigations into the alleged instigators of the unrest have caused consternation among some sectors of the public, civil society and political parties. 

Those arrested and charged have been accused of using social media platforms – notably Twitter – to incite the unrest, which was sparked by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma on contempt of court charges.  

But the failure of investigators to arrest “bigger fish” allegedly complicit in the incitement – such as Zuma’s daughter Duduzile – continues to heap negative attention on the abilities of enforcement authorities.  

Nevertheless, Lebeya told the commission that another alleged instigator was arrested on Tuesday and would be appearing in Roodepoort, Gauteng, within 48 hours.  

Lebeya also said he was unaware of a member of SAPS Crime Intelligence being implicated in the possible planning of the unrest. Sitole had testified to such during his appearance at the hearings on Tuesday. 

The Hawks had not received any “intelligence” about the unrest while it was taking place, said Lebeya. Investigations by the Hawks into the alleged instigators only started on 19 July, he said.  

The unrest started with sporadic incidents on 8 July – the day after Zuma was incarcerated – and had dissipated by 15 July.  

“The DPCI would have been happy to receive any intelligence. That would have helped with any investigations. It would have been ideal,” said Lebeya.  

The investigations into the alleged instigators were “a priority”, he said. 

“We need to finalise the matter.” 

The SAHRC has temporarily set up office at the aha Gateway Hotel in Umhlanga to hold the inquisitorial hearings. All evidence presented thus far has painted a picture of a wholly inadequate police force – particularly its intelligence division – and a thoroughly inept State Security Agency (SSA).  

Officials from the SSA are set to appear before the commission on Thursday, followed by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday. DM

[hearken id=”daily-maverick/8881″]

News Related

OTHER NEWS

NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks to ask every superintendent to reapply for job

Schools Chancellor David Banks will have all of the city’s superintendents reapply for their jobs. Gregory P. Mango New schools Chancellor David Banks will ask all 46 of the city’s ... Read more »

‘We had to mimic to everyone to run': how Tonga's volcano and tsunami disaster unfolded

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: EyePress News/REX/Shutterstock Tonga is used to natural disasters, but they have never experienced anything like the last week. “We’ve experienced tropical cyclones, but this ... Read more »

BMC to conduct electrical audits of all buildings above 15 metres

© Provided by The Indian Express AFTER THE fire that broke out at the Sachinam Heights on Saturday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has directed its chief electrical inspector to conduct ... Read more »

R-Day: 6 Army contingents to showcase uniforms through the decades

© Provided by The Indian Express Six Army contingents marching in the Republic Day parade this year will showcase the different uniforms worn and weapons carried by soldiers through the ... Read more »

Forest cover estimate based on field data: Forest Survey of India

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: Amid criticism from experts of its methodology to map forest cover in the country, the Forest Survey of India (FSI) said ... Read more »

South Dakota governor unveils two bills that would ban most abortions

The state of South Dakota will soon follow Texas and Mississippi with legislation that would cut back significantly on abortion rights in the state and directly challenge the precedent established ... Read more »

Jayson Tatum drops 51 points in Celtics' blowout win over Wizards

© Provided by Yahoo! Sports Jayson Tatum dropped 51 points on Sunday afternoon in Washington. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today) Jayson Tatum went off on Sunday afternoon. The Boston Celtics star put ... Read more »

Josh Gordon, Rashad Fenton, Darrel Williams inactive for the Chiefs

Chiefs receiver Josh Gordon is a healthy scratch for the second consecutive week. In the final three games of the regular season, he played a combined 41 snaps and caught ... Read more »

How to get free cards and Booster Packs in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

© Provided by Dot Esports With Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, players have access to more than 10,000 cards and multiple ways to duel on a dedicated digital platform. This means thousands ... Read more »

Former That's Entertainment member Romano Vasquez dies at 51

© Provided by PEP.ph Pumanaw na ang aktor at singer na si Romano Vasquez lagpas alas-sais ng gabi, Linggo, January 23, 2022, sa kanilang bahay sa Cavite City. Siya ay ... Read more »

Skier Dave Ryding bags Britain's first gold medal at Alpine World Cup

SKIER Dave Ryding has won Britain’s first gold medal in the 55 years of the Alpine World Cup. The man they nickname Rocket snatched top spot in the men’s slalom. ... Read more »

Several family members had Covid but I dodged it despite us spending Boxing day together

WE all know one – the person that has been exposed to Covid several times but has yet to catch it. Their sense of taste has remained intact and they ... Read more »

MAFS experts exclusively weigh in on producer power

Just when we think Married at First Sight couldn’t shock, entertain or bemuse us any more than it already has, a new season is announced and the rollercoaster starts again. ... Read more »

Trigger Point debuts with Vicky McClure's bomb disposal unit facing off terrorists – but viewers aren't happy

TRIGGER Point made its eagerly anticipated debut on Sunday night – but some viewers weren’t happy about one fine detail.  Soon into the episode, Vicky McClure was seen facing off ... Read more »

Goofy pufferfish shows off her oversized gnashers in smiley snap

A GOOFY pufferfish shows off the toothy smile that almost caused her to starve to death. Goldie the porcupine pufferfish could not eat properly because of her oversized gnashers. Goldie ... Read more »

Queen's grandson Peter Phillips introduces her to new girlfriend after divorce

THE Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips has introduced his new girlfriend to his grandmother – despite the controversy over her being married. He showed off partner Lindsay Wallace to the Queen ... Read more »

Madeleine McCann suspect ‘was miles away' when she vanished from apartment

MADELEINE McCann investigators have hit a major stumbling block in building a case against their prime suspect. They spoke to a new witness who claims to have been with Christian ... Read more »

The former waiter who threatens to serve de Minaur slice of humble pie

© Eddie Jim. Alex de Minaur faces a big test against Italian Jannik Sinner. With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer absent at this year’s Australian Open, the spotlight has, inevitably, ... Read more »

Australia news live update: Novavax vaccine to roll out February; Victoria records 17 Covid deaths, NSW 24; Joyce apologises for saying ‘people aren’t dying’

LIVE – Updated at 23:07 Read more »

Google Pixel Watch release date rumors, price, news and leaks

© Provided by TechRadar An image of the Fossil Gen 6 on a red background The Google Pixel Watch is something we’ve been hearing about for years, and though sporadic ... Read more »

Prince Harry ‘wants to be closer to family' ahead of Queen's Jubilee

Prince Harry has reached out to his father Prince Charles ahead of his grandmother’s Diamond Jubilee, a royal source has claimed. Harry, 37, is currently residing with Meghan Markle and ... Read more »

Strictly's Tilly Ramsay reveals ‘war wounds' from tour fall after Nikita Kuzmin pulls out

Strictly Come Dancing star Tilly Ramsay has shared a picture of her painful knee injury, after tripping over during her performance in front of the Live Tour arena audience. Gordon ... Read more »

Why Forest rising star Johnson is wanted by Premier League clubs

Read more »

What are three effective inflation hedges?

© Provided by Singapore Business Review The year-on-year inflation will likely stay elevated until May 2022, according to DBS, but there are three effective ways on how investors can hedge ... Read more »

Gunfire heard near president's home hours after army mutiny

Read more »

TOUKER SULEYMAN: Tax hike is morally wrong

The Government has done a terrific job of supporting households and business during the Covid crisis, with innovative solutions such as the furlough scheme and bounce-back loans. Which makes it ... Read more »

Wynn Resorts looks to sell online sports betting biz at deep discount: source

Not long ago, Wynn Resorts assigned a $3 billion valuation to its Wynn Interactive unit, a source tells The Post. REUTERS Wynn Resorts is looking to unload its online sports-betting ... Read more »

News report: Australian leader's WeChat account taken over

CANBERRA, Australia — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s account on Chinese-owned social media platform WeChat was taken over and renamed, a newspaper reported on Monday. Morrison’s 76,000 WeChat followers were ... Read more »

What to expect in the Year of the Tiger

© STAR/ File What to expect in the Year of the Tiger On Feb. 1, we will usher in the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Thundering Water Tiger. ... Read more »

Saso fires four-under, moves up to solo fifth

© Julio Aguilar / Getty Images / AFP Saso fires four-under, moves up to solo fifth MANILA, Philippines — Fil-Japanese Yuka Saso stayed within striking distance of the contenders with ... Read more »

No fear among corrupt since Modi left Gujarat, says AAP's Yuvrajsinh Jadeja

© Provided by The Indian Express Yuvrajsinh Jadeja (33) is a whistleblower, YouTuber, student activist, and an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader in Gujarat. In the past three years, his ... Read more »

Telecast of opinion polls violates code, stop them: Samajwadi Party

© Provided by The Times of India LUCKNOW: Describing it as an open violation of the Model Code of Conduct for elections, Samajwadi Party has filed a complaint with the ... Read more »

Ukraine receives second batch of weapons from US: 'And this is not the end'

© Getty Images Ukraine receives second batch of weapons from US: ‘And this is not the end’ Ukraine has received a second shipment of weapons from the United States as ... Read more »

CGST officials unearth tax evasion worth over Rs 5,000 cr by city traders

© Provided by The Indian Express THE CENTRAL intelligence unit of the Central Good and Services Tax (CGST) in Mumbai has unearthed tax evasion of Rs 5,200 crore by city-based ... Read more »

Main Chala choreographer Shabina Khan praises Salman Khan; Says ‘He adds his own style in every song'

© Provided by Pinkvilla Superstar Salman Khan returned to the screens to surprise his fans once again as he has collaborated with his rumoured girlfriend Iulia Vantur for the first ... Read more »

‘75-hour challenge' helps develop 50 public spaces

© Provided by The Times of India NEW DELHI: The challenge was simple enough, but the results held the promise of delivering on a much bigger scale. Given 75 hours ... Read more »

Hindu, Hinduism and Hindutva, as understood by Supreme Court

© Provided by The Times of India Three days back, Congress primo uomo leader Rahul Gandhi, continuing with his attack on Hindutvavadis perceiving them as communal, tweeted “‘Hindutvavadis’ have been ... Read more »

Elizabeth Debicki is the double of Princess Diana

At first glance it is hard to believe it isn’t Princess Diana striding the red carpet in a stunning white dress.  For Elizabeth Debicki is clearly revelling in playing the ... Read more »

Adele's Las Vegas residency concerts allegedly postponed following 'explosive arguments' behind the scenes

Conflict behind the scenes is reportedly to blame for the postponement of Adele’s Las Vegas residency concerts. The British singer tearfully pulled the plug on her shows on the eve ... Read more »

NYPD reported more subway assaults in 2021 than any year since 1997

MTA Chair Janno Lieber is pushing for Mayor Eric Adams to have more NYPD officers on duty in subway stations. Christopher Sadowski The NYPD reported 461 felony assaults in the ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic