As Toll of South Africa Unrest Exceeds BLM Riots' Damage, Activist Says Instigators Will Walk Free
09:10 GMT 16.09.2021 (Updated: 12:53 GMT 10.11.2022)
According to Dr Dan Roodt, who is the founder of the Pro-Afrikaans Action Group (PRAAG), this year's unrest in South Africa has led to heavy financial losses, but those suspected of fuelling the riots are unlikely to be prosecuted.
Sputnik: The riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces in the summer of 2021 left 337 people dead. More than 2,500 individuals were arrested. What were the causes of the unrest?
The riots were due to factional infighting within the ruling party and especially the power struggle between the tribes of the Kwazulu-Natal Province and the other tribes in the country. The president comes from the minority Venda tribe in the north of the country and so, the power struggle between the Zulu tribe in KwaZulu-Natal and other powerful figures in the ANC from minority tribes such as Cyril Ramaphosa, the president - that was one of the leading causes of the riots.
There was an ethnic mobilisation in KwaZulu-Natal to get the Zulus to make the country ungovernable. And then, of course, there's a lot of joblessness in South Africa. And the corruption and the mismanagement have got us into a situation where people are so desperate that they will storm the supermarkets and ransack shops and loot and so on.
Sputnik: Insurance companies must be paying a high price for the riots. Will they be able to live through this crisis without going bankrupt?
Dan Roodt: Under the old government, after the 1976 riots they set up a new form of insurance that goes by the abbreviation SASRIA. The purpose of this form of insurance is to actually compensate businesses that suffer losses during riots and political unrest or social unrest. And South Africa is one of the few countries in the world which has this kind of insurance, and it's also guaranteed by the government.
And every time you take out an insurance policy in South Africa, you contribute to this general fund against riots that will compensate you in the event that you are yourself a victim of rioting. But the riots that we had in July, they were was so bad and so extensive - they were far bigger than anything else ever in the world, I think, even bigger than anything we've had in the United States in the 1960s, in Detroit and other places, even bigger than the Los Angeles riots of 1992.
They caused 100 billion rands worth of damage. And, of course, a lot of the businesses and shops and distribution warehouses that were looted - they are now claiming under the SASRIA insurance policy, but apparently, they don't have enough money to pay out everybody for their claims.
So now, recently, there have been talks between the treasury and the SASRIA insurance institution, and it also went down to a portfolio committee in parliament. They are now trying to recapitalise the SASRIA insurance company - that state-owned insurance company because it has essentially been bankrupted by these riots. And I think they are putting a bit of a positive spin on it because it's obvious that they don't have enough money and they will not have enough money for the foreseeable future to pay off all these claims.
We have a lot of riots in this country. In fact, I saw a statistic somewhere that we have 15 protests per day all over the country, and off of those 50 percent turn violent. So, you've got about 7 small riots, or violent protests every day. So, businesses get damaged and they have to claim under this insurance.
Sputnik: Media reports say that the South African Riots of 2021 brought more losses than the unrest in 20 US states following the death of George Floyd. And since the treasury is becoming involved right now, as you've mentioned, does it mean that those who rioted, those who looted shops - they “shot themselves in the leg” because these losses might eventually lead to higher taxes for everyone in the country. Is that correct?
Dan Roodt: Yes, you are quite right. In fact, it has caused a lot of job losses because some companies even went bankrupt after these riots. There was even famine down there in KwaZulu-Natal for 48 hours until supermarket groups - you know, it wasn't a government initiative at all, but the supermarket groups whose warehouses were damaged down there - they've sent hundreds of trucks full of food down there to save the people from famine, the famine that they caused themselves.
But a lot of those distribution centres will never get going again. And they will probably move them to other parts of the country. So, there have been huge job losses as a result.
Sputnik: How big was the impact of the riots on Boer and Afrikaner businesses? Were they targeted by the looters as well?
Dan Roodt: Yes. A lot of people had businesses looted and burned down, and even some of the small towns were destroyed. They razed some of the small towns to the ground. They burnt everything. So, the people there without livelihoods, they don't even have access to proper supermarkets or distribution or anything like that.
So, it has definitely had a detrimental effect because as a result of affirmative action, and so on, in the state sector and in the corporate sector, a lot of people now have to run small businesses and be entrepreneurs. And this is the result - they get looted like that.
Sputnik: South Africa's police minister said that the riots were fuelled by certain individuals on social media. Is it known already who these people are, and do you think that they will be brought to justice? Dan Roodt:
Well, a few names have been mentioned, such as, for example, Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane Zuma.
He was one of the people whose names were mentioned. But in fact, I don't think they have established a concrete connection between him and the riots. And, I mean, lots of people are commenting on social media - Twitter and so on.
But to ascribe criminal culpability to somebody as a result of some tweet that he sent out for a riot that took place in a given province, you have to prove quite a lot in court. And I don't think any of them will actually be brought to justice. And the whole thing about prosecuting these people - I haven't seen anything in the media since then. So, I presume that it's dead in the water that the prosecutors aren't pursuing this.