The 65 individuals accused of instigating the unrest and public violence that occurred in July 2021 are scheduled to make their initial court appearance at the Durban High Court on Tuesday morning.
During their previous court appearance in November, the accused were served with indictments outlining the charges against them. These charges include terrorism, conspiring to commit terrorism, sedition, public violence, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit public violence, and incitement to commit public violence.
According to an eight-page indictment, the accused individuals became disgruntled following the Constitutional Court’s decision to sentence former president Jacob Zuma to 15 months in prison in June 2021.
This decision came after the proceedings of the State Capture Commission, led by Justice Raymond Zondo. It is alleged that the accused, who were supporters of Zuma, expressed their dissatisfaction with his imprisonment through public gatherings and social media posts.
The indictment further reveals that WhatsApp groups were formed with the purpose of organizing, planning, inciting, and coordinating violent incidents and looting.
These acts primarily took place in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and sporadically spread to other parts of the country. The aim of these actions was to exert pressure on the authorities to release Zuma.
The WhatsApp groups involved in these activities were named ‘Free Zuma Information,’ ‘Ethekwini Shutdown,’ and ‘Ink Shutdown.’
In a recent report, the South African Human Rights Commission concluded that the July 2021 unrest was orchestrated by well-resourced perpetrators. This finding highlights the coordinated nature of the violence and the planning that went into the events.
As the accused individuals prepare to face the court, their appearance marks a significant step in the legal process to hold those responsible for the unrest accountable.
The trial will provide an opportunity to present evidence and determine the extent of their involvement in the events that unfolded in July 2021.