Police stations across South Africa, particularly those with arms storage facilities, have been placed on high alert following an intelligence report that “instigators” may be planning to attack, with the intention of stealing guns, ammunition, and other weapons.
News24 reported that, on Sunday, as the country was starting to count the cost and extent of the damage in the wake of last week’s violent protests and looting which swept across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, police top brass warned police stations to step up their security.
The warning followed intelligence that individuals suspected of instigating and triggering the unrest, which claimed more than 270 lives, could be planning to disarm police stations across the KwaZulu-Natal province.
A memorandum, authored by the policing deputy national commissioner Fannie Masemola, warned that, while the threat may be specific to KwaZulu-Natal, it may spread to other provinces. According to NEWS24, the memorandum shows the police received the intelligence from the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC) on Sunday.
According to reports, the intelligence was gathered by a team set up by the NICOC to investigate the unrest, comprising members of the police service and its Crime Intelligence (CI) unit, the military’s Defence Intelligence (DI), and the State Security Agency (SSA).
“The briefing from the Intelligence Coordinating Committee to the JOCCOM on 18 July 2021 warned of the threat of possible attacks on police stations in KwaZulu-Natal to obtain firearms, ammunition and other weapons,” Masemola’s memorandum said.
The National Crime Combating Forum memorandum allegedly states: Planned Protests/Rallies Against the ConCourt Judgment: Police Safety and Prevention of Attacks Targeting Police Stations – was also sent to heads of the Hawks, Detective and Forensic Services, human resources, CI, and visible policing operations.
Another threat identified is that instigators of the current violence and protest action may seek to collude with members of the South African Police Service and members of other security services, perceived to be sympathetic to their cause, to obtain firearms and other weapons.
Masemola warned all the provincial police commissioners, divisional commissioners, and Hawks boss General Godfrey Lebeya to heighten security and implement adequate firearms controls.
“The provincial commissioner of KwaZulu-Natal and all other provincial commissioners, as well as the national head of the DPCI and divisional commissioners, with operational units and firearms storage facilities, are requested to take note of this threat and ensure that all police stations and operational units take the necessary measures, as included in the police safety strategy, to ensure the safety of their facilities and safe storage and effective controls over firearms, ammunition and other weapons that may be targeted by the organisers of (the) protest action.”
“The police safety strategy and plan, the guidelines to support the implementation of the strategy, and the pocket safety guard for police members provide comprehensive directive in regard measures that should be put in place to enhance police safety.”
A police Crime Intelligence operative allegedly said he had received intelligence that instigators planned to attack and disarm two police stations in Durban over the past weekend.
Two other senior sources within the police and the military told News24 that the team, set up by the NICOC, is investigating allegations and a possibility that several “instigators coordinated last week’s unrest”.
While the sources refused to divulge names, News24 reported that the list of possible instigators include senior ANC politicians believed to be members of the party’s Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction, former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) veterans, and rogue intelligence agents.