#UnrestSA: SA Council of Churches proposes amnesty for looters

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The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has proposed the declaration of an amnesty for a week or two, during which anyone who looted during the recent unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal can return stolen goods and avoid prosecution.

  • The SACC has proposed that looters be given an amnesty of a week or two to return stolen goods.
  • The council  submitted their proposal on Tuesday during a meeting with the president.
  • The religious group condemned the riots and pleaded with those who were encouraging the violence to stop.

Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said the SACC submitted the proposal to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday during their religious group meeting as part of their plan to resolve the ongoing unrest and restore order.

He said it was part of a healing campaign for restoration with amnesty, to encourage a positive social conscience.

Briefing the media on Thursday, Mpumlwana said it was commendable that most of the country was not gripped by the mayhem.

“Churches wish to encourage people who have looted to attempt to return things they stole, by delivering them [to their] nearest police stations. We do not expect a large-scale uptake of this, but we know that it is already in consideration in certain communities,” Mpumlwana said.

Included in the proposal to Ramaphosa, the council said it was aware of cases in which “state capture looting” money had been recovered. It proposed that this money be used to compensate people for the unrest, which destroyed many businesses and property in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The SACC  said it urged an aggressive effort to restore stolen money and suggested that the National Treasury consider applying recovered state capture money to the development and sustenance of a proposed Economic Restoration Fund. The fund can then be used to provide financial relief to businesses affected by the unrest.

Mpumlwana added: “We believe that such a fund can be the beginning of a fund that others, whose conscience inspires them, can support for the long-overdue economic transformation.

WATCH | Snaking queues for food and fuel as KZN grapples with the aftermath of mass looting

In parts of KwaZulu-Natal, motorists are scrambling to find fuel, while others stand in snaking queues for food. Many food stores were looted, trashed, and set on fire, many of those who were not affected chose to close their doors in fear.

“Economic transformation must deliberately and systematically enhance human dignity and the quality of life by preserving not only the environmental sustainability of our planet but also by enabling the participation in the productive economy of poor citizens and the disadvantaged majority with a process that progressively engenders wealth redistribution; to reverse poverty, inequality, and low growth through inclusivity.”

Mpumlwana added that the restoration campaign had already begun, with community leaders who fought against looting, and for the protection of their community infrastructure. 

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