New evidence suggests the recent spate of riots and looting in South Africa was more organised than originally thought, and organised using modern communications platforms at that. In a report in the Daily Maverick on 14 July 2021, Ferial Haffajee introduces evidence of a WhatsApp group apparently filled with messages from users planning and coordinating some of the recent attacks in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa said that “These are people with experience of running operations,” and that the recent unrest was more planned than was previously thought. Haffajee’s report appears to support this.
Meet ’em on WhatsApp
On Monday (12 July 2021) president Cyril Ramaphosa addressed South Africans, saying that the recent events were mainly due to ‘opportunists and thieves’. While partly true, it’s important to consider the role messaging apps WhatsApp and Telegram played in coordinating the recent attacks.
The report suggests at least twelve ringleaders, all of whom have been identified by state intelligence officials, are responsible for much of the vicious and violent outbursts seen in parts of South Africa. These people, which include a few higher-ups in parliament, are suspected to have organised the recent attacks using messaging platforms and social media.
Some of the messages in one particular WhatsApp group called ‘eThekweni Shutdown’ were published on Facebook, and detail how the initial attacks were coordinated. Screenshots of these messages were published by the Daily Maverick but have since appeared on broader social media platforms.
In the WhatsApp group, some members shared posters detailing which areas they would attack first and on which day. In addition, it appears members detailed planned attacks on (among others) Shoprite, Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths, several banks and fuel stations, in a bid to sow chaos in South Africa.
Source: Daily Maverick