Looting and riots in parts of SA stemming from corruption-fuelled factional battles within the ANC could have been averted, says ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba. The government could have taken proactive steps to protect and preserve the rule of law but failed to do so, he said on Wednesday.
As a result, ActionSA said it would pursue a “groundbreaking” lawsuit against the ruling party, President Cyril Ramaphosa, police minister Bheki Cele and members of the security cluster, among others, for failing to uphold their constitutional duty.
“Despite numerous opportunities, neither Ramaphosa nor Cele have provided any real reason for their failure to take decisive and preventative action against what is so plainly co-ordinated criminality. SA finds itself in this dire state because President Ramaphosa and minister Cele wilfully failed to mobilise and co-ordinate our law enforcement agencies at an early stage,” he charged.
A failure or omission to faithfully perform their legal duty must carry consequences as real as those experienced by South Africans who have lost their lives and livelihoods because of the executive’s incompetence and wilful inaction.
“A failure or omission to faithfully perform this legal duty must carry consequences as real as those experienced by South Africans who have lost their lives and livelihoods because of the executive’s incompetence and wilful inaction.”
The riots, which began in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and spread to parts of Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, have claimed the lives of 72 people and led to the arrest of more than 1,000 people.
Ramaphosa on Monday authorised the deployment of the military, a move Mashaba said was “a little too late”.
“While large sections of KZN and Gauteng witnessed the destruction of private and public property, the end of businesses and livelihoods, the breakdown of law and order, and the sad loss of life, Ramaphosa and his executive remained deadly silent and inactive until the latest moment possible. As South Africans, our pleas for assistance were met with silence until the situation was out of control,” said Mashaba
Mashaba said he was confident the party had a strong case and called on individuals and companies whose businesses and properties were negatively affected by the looting and violence to come forward.
“The legal action we are embarking on will be the first of its kind in democratic SA and will seek to finally hold the ruling party to account for its poor governance. We believe there is more than sufficient jurisprudence that merits this as a strong test case, and assists us in holding the government to account for its wilful failure to ensure proper law enforcement and the protection of lives, livelihoods and property.”
Asked to comment on how much had been reserved for the legal proceedings, advocate Gillian Benson said it was difficult to predict but those affected would not have to pay as the case would be taken on pro bono.
While the matter could take years before it was concluded, Mashaba said he would not be deterred.
“Unfortunately there is no overnight solution. We can’t build the shopping centres that have been destroyed, we don’t have the powers to bring back the lives that were lost but we are going to hold the government accountable, no matter how long it will take.”
Those negatively affected by the violence were urged to share their experiences here.