R2K trusts South Africans to engage critically in the events surrounding the alleged “coup plotter” arrested by the Hawks on Wednesday. The evidence available does not suggest a credible threat to our constitutional democracy. We urge South Africans to ensure these events are not used cynically to justify greater power for the security services.
The narrative put forward by the Hawks needs to be viewed critically.
- The Hawks claim this individual is linked to two structures, absurdly named “the Anti-State Capture Death Squad Alliance” and the “Anti-White Monopoly Capitalists Regime”. It is not credible that genuine covert structures would be so descriptively named.
- We also note the allegation that this individual approached various big businesses seeking donations to fund assassination attempts of various prominent individuals. It is not credible that a genuine covert plot would involve open efforts at fundraising.
We also note that the state has recommended the individual get psychiatric evaluation. The unusual circumstances around this case suggest that mental illness is a real possibility. We do not find it credible that these activities are part of a bona fide threat to our constitutional democracy.
We cannot ignore the possibility for state institutions to seize these events as an opportunity to create an artificial ‘security crisis’. It is common in any situation for securocrats to generate a crisis to justify more power and influence, and a closing down of democratic space. The track record of the Hawks does not inspire confidence. This includes the attempt, in October 2015, to charge protesters at Parliament with treason, as well as last year’s ludicrous attempt to prosecute former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on charges that were then dropped. We also cannot ignore the vague but persistent allegations made by senior members of the security cluster, including the Minister of State Security David Mahlobo, that there are unnamed ‘rogue elements’ and a ‘third force’ allegedly using the courts, the media and civil society organisations to ‘destabilise’ the country. This dangerous narrative must end.
At the same time, we remember that genuine political killings are a reality that threaten our constitutional democracy. This week, unknown gunmen killed a senior ANC official in KZN, Khaya Thobela, at his home. Last month, Richmond municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole was also gunned down. Over the years, dozens if not hundreds of political activists, party officials and local government leaders have been killed in apparent acts of political violence and intimidation, especially in KZN and Mpumalanga. In the Glebelands Hostel in KZN alone, the killings long ago passed the point of being a crisis. In light of the very unusual circumstances surrounding the alleged ‘coup plotter’, we have to ask what has been done to stop the pattern of genuine political killings in South Africa and bring the criminals to justice.
The Right2Know Campaign will continue to monitor these events.