The police were told not to interfere during the July unrest according to Melanie Veness

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During the time when former president Jacob Zuma was about to be arrested, there were some warning signs from his suppoters that they will make this country ungovernable should he be arrested. People started protesting and we all thought that it was just a normal protest since anyone is allowed to protest peacefully and doing it within the limits of the law.

However the situation started getting out of hand when people started burning trucks in KwaZulu-Natal. We know that when there are protests, this kind of things do happens but the police never saw it coming or we can just say that they turned a blind eye. This is according to a witness who was giving evidence at the SAHRC Commision.

In most cases when there are strikes people attacks the shops of the foreign national but this time around people went to the extreme and they started looting the malls in KwaZulu-Natal and we thought that the police would be able to manage the situation but it went on unabated. We watched on national TV as people looted and burned some of the malls. The looting happened in most parts of the KwaZulu-Natal province and Gauteng province and many lives were lost during this time.

Melanie Veness who is the CEO of the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business told the SAHRC Commissioners that the unrest was devastating and traumatising as she described seeing the mayhem and bodies strewn along the roadside at the peak of the riots. She also told them that the police were told to do nothing. They were told not to interfere. They had the resources normally used for situation like that but they did not use them. At some point she even tried to call the premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle and he was nowhere to be found.

The situation escalated and they started looting the warehouses. People were literally sitting by the road side with their looted goods waiting for transport. It was like we were watching a horror movie.

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