Bheki Cele

Police Minister, Bheki Cele. Photo: Flickr

‘SAPS has learnt nothing from the July unrest’: DA slams Bheki Cele

The DA says SA is likely to face another ‘July unrest’ and SAPS has learnt nothing from the unprecedent violent unrest.

Bheki Cele

Police Minister, Bheki Cele. Photo: Flickr

Friday, 8 July marked a year since the unprecedented violent unrest ripped across KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng and the Democratic Alliance (DA) feels that the South African Police Services (SAPS) learned nothing from this. 

The 2021 July unrest saw many stores and businesses being looted and almost 400 people died. Many businesses closed down and some are still trying to recover from the aftermath.


According to the DA, to date, SAPS has not arrested a single person who may have orchestrated the violence in spite of Police Minister Bheki Cele claiming to know of 19 people who instigated the unrest.

DA Shadow Minister of Police, Andrew Whitfield said SAPS was caught with their pants down in 2021 and has done absolutely nothing since that date to prepare themselves for a repeat of last year’s violence. 

SAPS July unrest DA
A girl carries a basket containing food items on her head that was looted from the Lotsoho Mall in Katlehong township, East of Johannesburg, on July 12, 2021. Several shops are damaged and cars burnt in Johannesburg, following a night of violence. Police are on the scene trying to control further protests. It is unclear if this is linked to sporadic protests following the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)

Whitfield said as South Africa’s winter of discontent sets in with rising inflation, endless load shedding, high rates of unemployment and political instability in the ANC, South Africa faces the imminent risk of a repeat of last year’s violence.

Whitfield reportedly visited KZN last week to assess the state of readiness of SAPS in the province and learned from SAPS officers that they had received no additional resources or training since July 2021, nor had they received any directives to prepare themselves for the possibility of further unrest

“In reply to a recent parliamentary question Minister Cele revealed that 35% of the Public Order Police (POP) fleet is not operational nationally while more than 50% of the POP fleet in the Eastern Cape, KZN, the Free State and Limpopo are not operational.

“A reply to another question revealed that 26% of the SAPS visible policing fleet are not operational leaving many communities across the country to fend for themselves. This critical shortage of fleet leaves SAPS stranded and unable to effectively respond to ordinary crimes let alone violent unrest.” 

Andrew Whitfield


The DA MP also revealed that in reply to a parliamentary question, of the fixed establishment of 116 227 posts at station level there are only 104 901 personnel at police stations. If one were to remove the administrative personnel it would leave the country with less than 100 000 boots on the ground.

Furthermore, Whitfield said that urgent attention needs to be given to the critical resource constraints in SAPS as well as the absence of quality training to prepare SAPS members to deal with public disorder.

ALSO READ: July Unrest one year later: 19 arrested for incitement, 86 more ‘being monitored’