• Investigations are under way to determine if ex-State Security Agency agents close to former president Jacob Zuma are fanning unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
  • State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said after receiving information, they were investigating these devastating claims.
  • Well-placed sources told News24 that former top spook Thulani Dlomo had been implicated. 

The controversial former head of the State Security Agency’s (SSA) rogue special operations unit, Thulani Dlomo, has been identified as a prime suspect being investigated for fomenting violent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal following the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma. 
News24 can reveal, from information confirmed by three independent and highly placed sources, that intelligence officials told the police Dlomo was a key person of interest in instigating the unrest that has rocked South Africa, led to the death of at least 45 citizens and destroyed businesses and jobs worth hundreds of millions of rands. 
The former spook and ambassador to Japan is known to be fiercely loyal to Zuma and is said to be at the centre of orchestrating pro-Zuma unrest that has descended into violent looting across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. In January, the Zondo Commission heard that Dlomo’s unit effectively operated as Zuma’s private militia, “was a law unto itself and directly served the political interests of the executive”.
READ | Adriaan Basson: The week the REAL rogue unit was finally exposed
State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo told a media briefing on Tuesday they were investigating the involvement of former senior SSA agents without naming Dlomo.
“We did receive such information, and we are investigating it. Any information that comes to us we investigate. We do an analysis and we shift fact from fiction. That information we are working on.
“Our responsibility is to gather and collate information and package it properly for a client which is law enforcement or a client that so needs it,” she added.
Independent sources said Dlodlo and Police Minister Bheki Cele were given lists of people suspected to be at the centre of orchestrating the unrest, that has plenty hallmarks of being orchestrated with a distinct modus operandi.
“Dlomo has his fingers all over it. The farm [headquarters of the SSA] has processed information that points to him being at the centre of all of this unrest,” an impeccable source told News24. 
On Tuesday, Cele said it was time for the police to pursue the 12 people identified to be at the centre of the orchestrated unrest. 
He added the police should not only be held up arresting looters.
READ | We have a list of 12 instigators, Cele says
“One [Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla] or two names have been mentioned here. There are 12 names that the security cluster is looking at. They are being pursued. They are not spared when they break the law, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Cele said.
Zuma-Sambudla, Zuma’s daughter, has been posting inflammatory messages on Twitter since the Constitutional Court ruled her father must be incarcerated. 
Cele also pointed to an unnamed councillor from KwaDukuza, pictured with a rifle, as one of the instigators. 
Security officials said there was evidence that some of the initial unrest, before widespread looting occurred, was orchestrated and well-planned. 
Anecdotes of rioters being dropped off in 4X4 bakkies filled with tyres across KwaZulu-Natal and the targeted burning of some industries were cited as examples of the well-orchestrated unrest. 
“We have to get the agitators. This is what law enforcement is doing … sifting those who had been taken by the mob spirit to go there [to loot] and those who are planners and agitators on these matters,” Cele said. 
Dlomo was fired from the SSA in 2019 amid a litany of corruption allegations against him.
READ | Mpofu says ConCourt has ‘done nothing wrong’ in Zuma contempt case, but must correct ‘errors’
The special operations unit he led was labelled by a high-panel review led by former minister Sydney Mufumadi as illegal. 
“… SO [special operations] had largely become a parallel intelligence structure serving a faction of the ruling party and, in particular, the personal political interests of the sitting president of the party and country. This is in direct breach of the Constitution, the White Paper, the relevant legislation and plain good government intelligence functioning,” the report read. 
Dlomo has eluded intelligence officials, who have tried to track him down, since his sacking. In 2019 President Cyril Ramaphosa recalled him as ambassador to Japan – a position to which he was appointed by Zuma in 2017. 
But well-placed sources said he still maintained a parallel intelligence structure loyal to Zuma. Hundreds of millions of rands from SSA’s budget was spent on funding his rogue unit, buying vehicles and paying operators who were not officially on the SSA’s books. According to intelligence insiders, it was possible that many of these assets were still working under Dlomo.
A second source noted:
I am not sure if they will arrest him just yet. They may first talk to him to talk to his network [of those on the ground] to stop the targeted attacks. It has to happen.
 Dlomo could not be reached for comment as he has changed his number and his former lawyer said he had no working contact for him. 
READ HERE | Zuma Unrest: Eastern Cape asks army to stand by as people gather outside malls
By Tuesday, more than 800 people were arrested in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, with the death toll from this week’s unprecedented violence exceeding 45 people. 
The damage to shops and factories in both provinces were not quantified yet as the government fears an unprecedented impact on the economy. 
This as the deployment of the SA National Defence Force in Durban had little effect, well-placed sources in law enforcement said. 
He said:
Army, are they here? You would never be able to tell. We have been calling for them all day and nothing has changed, we are overrun.
 ‘Running out of rubber bullets’
Another added the presence of soldiers – in so few a number – was ineffectual.
“We have not seen the army; we are just trying to hold these people back as long as we can. We are running out of rubber [bullets] and they just keep coming,” another said.
Looting and rioting continued with relentless abandon across KwaZulu-Natal, with the police still unable to bring the situation under control five days after the unrest first broke out.
In Durban, gangs of armed looters struck at warehouses and wholesalers, using trucks and bakkies to ferry away their loot as the police looked on, helplessly outnumbered. 
Columns of black smoke rose from the suburb of Springfield Park where thousands of people rushed into Makro and the surrounding shops, before setting fire to strip malls. Similar scenes played out in Pietermaritzburg with unencumbered looting of warehouses and shops.
In Greytown – also beset by unrest – three people were killed when they were crushed by a stack of falling beer crates. This is beyond the official toll of 45 in Gauteng and KZN, a number which is likely to rise. 
In the northern reaches of KZN, the Protea Hotel Umfolozi River was set ablaze, and on the south coast, towns and villages have been laid to waste. 
Clicks on Tuesday joined other retailers in shutting all their 110 stores in KZN and 130 in Gauteng, where unrest had too taken hold.
READ | Clicks closes all KZN stores after looting, Dis-Chem halts Covid-19 vaccines and testing
Fifty-two stores were looted, along with a major distribution centre in Pinetown. 
The unrest has since seeped into Gauteng, with violence reported across Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. The police there are also gravely overwhelmed and, in many instances, looting continued without hindrance.  
The body of a woman was found in a looted store in Soweto after hundreds of people cleared the shelves, and in Alexandra, clouds of teargas smoke filled the streets and gunfire crackled in the air.
Both Cele and Dlodlo said on Tuesday the damage could have been far worse had it not been for intelligence gathered by law enforcement agencies.
ALSO READ | Death toll rises amid stampedes – at least 45 killed in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng
The SSA’s intervention and intelligence prevented attacks on substations, planned attacks on the ANC provincial offices in KZN, and attacks at Durban Westville prison, Dlodlo said. Cele said they had foiled a plan to burn a Durban hospital with patients inside.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party would be laying charges against EFF leader Julius Malema, and former president Jacob Zuma’s children, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla and Duduzane Zuma, for inciting violence on social media.

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