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No evidence links recent truck attacks to July 2021 unrest – Bheki Cele

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Police Minister Bheki Cele

12th July 2023

By: Thabi Shomolekae

Creamer Media Senior Writer

     

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Police Minister Bheki Cele on Wednesday assured citizens that the recent attacks on trucks were not linked or related to the 2021 July unrest.

Cele was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria, to provide an update on criminality targeted at trucks. He said there was no evidence before the South African Police Service (Saps) to suggest that the targeting of trucks was in any way linked to the July insurrection.

This week marks two years since the country witnessed mass looting, acts of arson and wanton destruction in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng province, where 354 people lost their lives as a result of the mayhem.

“I wish to take this opportunity to allay any fears that what transpired in July 2021 will repeat itself,” said Cele.

To date, 67 people have been arrested in 11 cases related to the July insurrection.

Cele noted that police were also, in fact, investigating 107 cases in KwaZulu-Natal related to the torching of trucks since 2018.

“We have a capable State that has learnt from the past. The security apparatus is working in unison and the Security Cluster is in a better state to respond to any eventuality,” he said.

Cele highlighted that 21 trucks had been burnt since Sunday, nine in KwaZulu-Natal, three in Limpopo and nine in Mpumalanga.

Intelligence suggests that these attacks on trucks may be business related as opposed to random acts of criminality.

“Evidence before us points to organised, coordinated and sophisticated operations that seek to undermine and sabotage the State,” Cele added.

He noted that 12 persons of interest had been identified through investigations and intelligence collection.

“These people are around the country but more specifically they are concentrated in two provinces, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga,” he stated.

He explained that a plan of action from the police was already underway.

“No matter the motive, the country’s law enforcement remains on high alert and is hard at work at preventing more attacks but also finding these individuals or gangs of thugs hell-bent on causing havoc on our roads. It is on this score, that the Saps has heightened police visibility and is leaving nothing to chance in all provinces,” he added.

Cele noted that all major truck routes had been secured and regular patrols were being conducted along identified high-risk routes.

Meanwhile, he added that the Saps had noted incorrect media reportage of trucks being torched in Gauteng, as part of the coordinated truck attacks.

He said the Gauteng Provincial Commissioner had confirmed that two trucks were involved in two separate accidents.

He explained that the Saps remained adamant that both these incidents were unrelated to the coordinated and planned attacks on trucks and should be reported as such.

Police Commissioner Fanie Masemola said the Saps would maintain the deployment of law enforcement agencies on highways until arrests had been made.

Edited by Sashnee Moodley
Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

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