July unrest: SAHRC investigative hearings resume on Tuesday

The July riots claimed 330 lives and cost R25 billion in damages.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will resume its national investigative hearing into the July unrest and riots which swept through KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng.

July riots

The hearings will look into the cause of the unrest and the causes of allegedly racially motivated attacks and killings, among other things.

The July riots resulted in more than 330 people losing their lives, and cost R25 billion in damages.

The hearings are expected to run until 3 December.

During a crippling pandemic further deepening dismal unemployment figures and a struggling economy, the July riots also claimed more than 300 lives.

Zama Nguse – a Pietermartizburg woman whose 17-year-old nephew, Sbahle Nguse, was killed during riots – was the first to take the stand on Monday morning.

Nguse said Durban residents retaliated after their businesses were impacted by the riots. They set fire to shacks and shot at people in her community – including her nephew.

She said her nephew Sibahle “wasn’t aware in which direction we ran and was looking for us”. She was later informed her nephew was fatally shot.

“When I got up to the area where he was last seen, I found his siblings holding him. I had never seen a person dying before — when I saw him, it looked like he was gasping for air.”

The following day, 12 July, Zama continued to explain, she, alongside her two other sisters, went to the house of Sbahle’s father to inform him of the incident.

While on her way back home, she said that’s when she saw that chaos had erupted in the area as some nearby shops were looted.