Brookside Mall torching instigator slapped with 12 year prison sentence

Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg on fire during the July 2021 unrest. Picture: Screen grab

Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg on fire during the July 2021 unrest. Picture: Screen grab

Published Nov 29, 2023


The man convicted of inciting violence during the July 2021 unrest in Pietermaritzburg has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

The charges relate to the incidents of looting and public violence which occurred in July 2021 in parts of the country, especially KwaZulu-Natal.

Mdumiseni Khetha Zuma appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court on Wednesday facing charges of contravening Sections 17 and 18 of the Riotous Assemblies Act, where he incited people to gather and commit public violence.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), this was done by making an inciteful video, pertaining to the Brookside Mall, and distributing it on WhatsApp.

During this time, the Brookside Mall in Pitermaritzburg was looted and burnt to the ground.

Regional NPA spokesperson, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said Zuma was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for count one — two years of which are suspended for five years on condition that he is not convicted of the same offence during the period of suspension.

“He was sentenced to six years imprisonment (two years of which are to run concurrently with count one). This results in the effective sentence of 12 years direct imprisonment,” Ramkisson-Kara said.

She said Senior State advocate Yuri Gangai led the evidence of video footage, audio clips and the testimony of a guard who worked at the mall. Gangai further led the evidence of two experts who translated the audio clips.

In aggravation of sentence, Gangai led the testimony of the manager of the mall, at the time it was burned.

“The man said that the estimated damage caused by the looting and fire was approximately R500 million,” Ramkisson-Kara said.

“He further stated that the mall serviced five different communities, as well as about 5,000 people who collected their (South African Social Security Agency) Sassa grants there. They have all been adversely affected by the burning down of the mall.”

She said while the NPA in KZN has finalised several cases in respect of the July 2021 unrest, this is the first conviction where an individual has been convicted and subsequently sentenced for inciting the unrest.

“We hope that this sentence serves as a deterrent to others who intend on engaging in similar offences. We commend the working relationship between the DPCI KZN and the prosecution,” Ramkisson-Kara said.

Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) took up Zuma’s case.

EFF leader Julius Malema has tasked the EFF’s KZN provincial chair to find out the facts of the case and how they can assist, as they do not believe Zuma had proper legal representation.