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Zuma's Legacy: The build up to breaking down crime intelligence

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Why didn’t Crime Intelligence foil the looting that mushroomed and is tearing up parts of South Africa? Police bosses say the unit did, but the reality is the country’s police intelligence component has been ravaged over more than a decade and claims of malfeasance are still seeping out of it.

A convicted kidnapper, and a police officer who misrepresented his qualifications and was pushed out of the police service.

These are two of the people who have headed South Africa’s Crime Intelligence, the critical buffer meant to snuff out high-level threats so that officers can proactively protect residents.

But the all-important policing component now has a history that, at some points, reads something like a bizarre rap sheet, and, if claims from certain police officers are to be believed, it has all but transformed into a shadowy threat to those meant to be protected.

On top of this, the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has heard strong allegations that the State Security Agency was abused to suit a political faction aligned to former president Jacob Zuma.

As DM168 reported, claims of police officers committing crimes and others being sidelined for investigating these could also be a symptom of State Capture — two words that have become synonymous with allegations against Zuma.

Following Zuma’s incarceration last week for contempt of court, protests involving his supporters erupted in his home province of KwaZulu- Natal.

This week the protests morphed into intense looting that saw widespread road closures, Covid-19 vaccination sites shutting down, businesses destroyed, hundreds of arrests and dozens of people killed.

Questions about the role of intelligence in preventing such situations surfaced, the most notable being: why didn’t these structures extinguish the situation before it erupted?

Well, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, they did the best they could.

Their responses, however, come across as delusional and contradictory when paired with footage of rampant looting and destruction.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Cele said officers had acted on early warning signs that intelligence picked up and there was strong surveillance on the ground.

He said at least 304 arrests had been made in KwaZulu-Natal and 453 in Gauteng.

Police were still pursuing “the agitators”.

Dlodlo, replying to a question, confirmed the State Security Agency (SSA) was investigating information that senior ANC members and former SSA members who supported Zuma were involved in instigating the looting.

Answers to broader questions relating to Crime Intelligence capabilities also seem to lead back to Zuma.

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