The Major Crime Branch (Hawks) has arrested 20 alleged instigators of inciting communal violence through social media and other platforms during riots in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and other parts of the country last year.

According to Hawkes, joint police teams have been mobilized to make simultaneous arrests in different areas to ensure the court appearance of persons of interest in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, North West, Free State, Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces.

The 20 arrested suspects are expected to appear in the Durban Central Magistrates Court on Friday on charges ranging from conspiracy to commit violence in a public place, incitement to commit violence in a public place and incitement to commit arson.

The investigation continues, new arrests are imminent.

The 20 suspects join 19 who were also arrested in connection with incitement to violence and looting last July.

Riots have left South Africa in chaos as unrest spread across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed.

Speaking at a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster briefing last month, Police Minister Chele said the Hawks had 86 people of interest in their investigation.

READ ALSO: July unrest in numbers: arrests, trials and investigation

Court cases

At the time, Defense Minister Thandi Madis said 2,435 cases had been added to the court list, 50 of which had resulted in convictions.

Focusing on Phoenix – an area of ​​KZN that has seen high levels of violence, often between neighbors – 164 cases were investigated, resulting in 69 arrests.

Modise said 36 of those arrests were for the killing of 35 people in the area. Another 31 were detained for attempted murder.

Modise said more than 8,000 incidents have been reported to police, leading to at least 5,000 arrests. Of these arrests, more than 2,900 cases were closed as unsolved or unfounded.

The cases included incitement to public violence, murder, attempted murder, arson, willful damage to property, possession of allegedly stolen property, damage to infrastructure and willful murder.

Additional reporting on Gareth Cotterell

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