South Africa’s looting death toll rises to 337

SOUTH Africa’s Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told a press briefing that the looting death toll had reached 337, with 79 deaths in Gauteng and 258 in KwaZulu-Natal.

She explained that the “revision of the records happens when those who were injured ultimately succumb to their injuries”.

As has been the case previously, however, almost no details are forthcoming about the nature of these deaths. Ntshavheni said only that 42 cases of murder had been opened in Gauteng, and 171 cases of murder opened in KwaZulu-Natal.

Thirty-seven inquest dockets had been opened in Gauteng and 87 inquest dockets opened in KwaZulu-Natal. She added that the SAPS had opened 132 cases of arson in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Law enforcement agencies are continuing with their investigations to ensure that instigators and key participants in the unrest are brought to book,” Ntshavheni said.

“There are no new updates on the arrests of the instigators.”

With regards to the arrests of four people in Gauteng over the past few days, reportedly for incitement of violence, the minister was questioned whether these individuals formed part of the 12 original masterminds that the government said it was pursuing for having orchestrated the alleged insurrection.

“The four suspects are part of the key players, whether they are called masterminds or whatever,” Ntshavheni said.

Later, she added: “All instigators, be they 12, be they more, will be arrested.”

The National Prosecuting Authority said on Thursday that at this stage there is “no evidence” that those arrested had committed treason or terrorism, with the only charges brought relating to the incitement of public violence.

Ntshavheni said that it was not the state’s job to prescribe charges to prosecutors, but that it was expected that further charges would be added as the cases progress.

She was also asked to respond to Amnesty International’s call for authorities to “reveal what they knew and when, in the days leading to the violence which unnecessarily cost many people’s lives”.

The minister responded that the international human rights organisation was “going beyond its own scope of work”, and said that a full investigation into events was under way.

“It’s not in the best interests of this country to disclose the intelligence information that was at the disposal of the state,” she said. □

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