The DA will lay charges of treason and terrorism against the instigators of the unrest that led to widespread looting and destruction in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.
Adv Glynnis Breytenbach, the DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, said in a statement today that DA has seen WhatsApp chats between individuals who have identified themselves as being part of a number of ANC branches in KwaZulu-Natal whose messages appear to indicate their intentions to destabilise and remove the current government.
“Under South African law, treason is defined as any conduct unlawfully committed by a person owing allegiance to a state with the intention of overthrowing the government; coercing the government by violence into any action or inaction; violating, threatening or endangering the existence, independence or security of the country; and changing its constitutional structure,” said Breytenbach.
The DA said the following messages from the individuals in the WhatsApp group make it clear that their intentions were to “overthrow” the incumbent government and coerce it through violence:
- “If it means everything must burn then that must be”;
- “Let those in power summon him so that he can hear our pleas and complains [sic] as the ANC”;
- “We are the once [sic] that put him there, we are also the ones that will remove him”; and
- “Let it burn it is on now comrades”.
“The DA believes that these messages show that the instigators intended to commit acts of terrorism and went about it in a very methodical way,” said Breytenbach.
Terrorism under South African law refers to any acts which involve the systematic, repeated and arbitrary use of violence by any means or method; cause the destruction of or substantial damage to any property, natural resource, or the environmental or cultural heritage, whether public or private.
Terrorism is designed or calculated to cause serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, or the delivery of any such service, facility or system, whether public or private; and which is committed, in whole or in part, for the purpose of the advancement of an individual or collective political, religious, ideological, or philosophical motive, objective, cause or undertaking.
“There can be no other course for the DA than to lay charges of treason and terrorism against these individuals who showed a complete lack of regard for the lives they were endangering and the livelihoods they would destroy in their ill-considered attempt at overthrowing President Cyril Ramaphosa and their own ANC government,” added Breytenbach.
“Not only have they left thousands of families without the means to earn a living for many years to come, but their actions have led to deaths of at least a 117 people and have left many more with food insecurity the past week. Their actions are reprehensible, and these individuals should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”