The President Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa met with religious leaders from across the country on the eve of 13th July 2021. Approximately seventy participants from various faith groups attended the virtual meeting. He spoke about the plunder and pillage, the unprecedented cost to lives and to the economy. He said that this was part of the work of counter revolutionaries aimed at making the country ungovernable.
The Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in her address spoke about the deployment of the SANDF to various hotspots around KZN and Gauteng provinces; she spoke about how the security cluster prevented the planned take -over of some of the airports by acting on information received from the intelligence. Religious leaders brought up the following:
- Where was the Intelligence apparatus of the state? Why was it unable to sound the alarm bells?
- The South African Police Services were hopelessly outnumbered; some are even alleged to be complicit in looting.
- The belated deployment of the military was equally disheartening.
The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) made the following five requests to the President:
- The government has seen it fit to open gyms and restaurants but has unfortunately not permitted the opening of religious places. This under plays the role of religion and prayer in dealing with the multiple crises that we face in South Africa. The situation demands that places of prayer are opened immediately with appropriate restrictions.
- The mobilisation of the SANDF has to be increased so that their presence is made more visible especially in the various hotspots.
- The process of holding the perpetrators criminally liable has to be accelerated so that justice is seen to be done and so that the criminals realize that there are consequences to law-breaking.
- We suggest that hotlines be introduced in hotspot areas so that people may be able to petition for help in cases of impending danger.
- Our tragic experience calls for a review of the proposed changes to the firearms control act which include removing self-defence as valid reason to own a gun. Why would government want to disarm and render society totally defenceless?
The President undertook to review the ban on religious gatherings and expressed his appreciation to the forum for the positive engagement.