- Bonginkosi Khanyile says the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma was not the cause of the July riots.
- Poverty is what drove many South Africans to loot, causing economic losses in the tens of billions, says Khanile, who is on trial for his alleged role in the riots.
- His case was postponed until Friday after he added another lawyer to his legal team.
Former EFF member Bonginkosi Khanyile, who is on trial for his alleged role in the July riots, has claimed no one looted on behalf of former president Jacob Zuma.
Instead, he said, poverty was the main reason why hundreds of thousands of people looted retailers and other shops in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng during the July 2021 riots.
Khanila faces charges of inciting public violence and violating the Disaster Management Act for acts of looting and violence.
READ | Bonginkosi Khanyile, accused of inciting July riots, joins Patriotic Alliance
He was arrested in August 2021 in Gauteng.
Senior prosecutor Yuriy Gangai previously told the court that he would use five separate videos as key evidence to convict Khanile.
“… until Bab’Msholosi is released”
In one of the clips, he says in Izulu that those burning the country must continue to do so “until Bab’Msholosi is released.”
In the video, he added that those blocking the roads should continue to do so “until Bab’Msholosi is released.”
“Those who are fighting must continue to fight until Msholosi is released. Almond! Live, Jacob Zuma, live,” he said.
Speaking to the media on Monday – shortly after his case was adjourned so he could add a lawyer to his legal team – Khanile said Zuma, once a close ally of his, was not behind the riots.
Instead, he added that Zuma’s arrest came during a strict Covid-19 lockdown.
In the closed regime, small businesses collapsed, and others swam in a pool of poverty and hunger. Zuma became the spark. Some people looted rice but did not take care of it.
He and Zuma appeared to be close political allies until Hanile joined the Patriotic Alliance.
He said the robbery in 2021 was purely in the name of “poverty” and “peer pressure”.
“When people were looting, I was in Umlazi. You see someone come home with a TV, then the woman asks her boyfriend why he’s sitting at home and makes him go get something.’
Khanile claimed that there was no authority and no one directed the population to loot.
Most expert and eyewitness accounts of the July riots suggest that the group’s leaders gained access to the premises and then allowed the general public to loot.
Khanile called it a false narrative and added:
It was something happening on earth. There was no chief. Whoever believes that there were people who organized the organization of society is lying.
Speaking about this trial, which was postponed until Friday, he said that he would not “run away”.
“I have no fear in my heart because I am an innocent person. I have never taken a refrigerator, set fire to a mall, stolen anything, or instructed anyone to steal anything. Why should I run away from this matter? Only a guilty person would do that. .”
Khanile said he would gladly accept the prison term.
“I said that even if I was wrongfully sentenced to 30 years, I would take it with pride because I know that I am innocent.”
Lacking evidence, he criticized the court, saying the presiding judge “wants to run this process with feelings rather than using the law.”
“I think the attitude of the court is bad.”