Ronald Lamola Guptas

Minister Ronald Lamola. [Photo: GCIS]

SA riots: Looters could soon be charged with ‘terrorism offences’

Heads up, looters: Justice Minister Ronald Lamola hasn’t come to play, and those who took part in the riots last week may face terrorism charges.

Ronald Lamola Guptas

Minister Ronald Lamola. [Photo: GCIS]

Blimey, Ronald Lamola isn’t messing around when it comes to throwing the book at suspected looters. The Justice Minister told a Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday that some of those arrested for their part in last week’s riots could be slapped with ‘terrorism charges’, given the wider context of the unrest.

Looters could be charged with terrorism offences

According to Lamola, almost 1 500 rioters identified by law enforcement officials have been hauled into prison. Hundreds of them have already been processed by the courts, but the wheels of justice could soon find themselves turning in a very different direction, should the department find that more looting-related offences could be classified as terrorism:

“Some of these criminal acts of disruption could fall squarely within the parameters of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorism Activities Act No 33 of 2004. Law enforcement agencies have to investigate all those who violated the Constitution, and all legislation that affected by these violent acts that we witnessed in our country.”

“I personally walk the streets in KZN and Gauteng. I witnessed some very disturbing scenes, and racial tensions in our communities boiled over and threatened our democratic status. People of this country now need to show ubuntu.”

SA riots: What offences could violate the Terror Act?

During his speech, Minister Lamola identified six examples of criminality that could fall under SA’s Terrorism Activities Act – and a guilty verdict for any of the following actions could see suspects serve a much longer term behind bars.

  • – Violent acts of burning national key installations.
  • – Disruptions of economic activities.
  • – The blockage of national roads, leading to disruptions of key medical and food supplies.
  • – Sabotage of telecommunications and electrical facilities.
  • – Threatening the unity and territorial integrity of the country.
  • – And, of course, causing or spreading feelings of terror, fear and panic among civilians.