The unrest experienced in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng over the past several days was “clearly instigated,” President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
Speaking to the media during an oversight visit to Ethekweni on Friday (16 July), Ramaphosa said law enforcement agencies have identified these instigators.
Unrest in South Africa ‘was instigated’
“It’s quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated. There were instigators [and] people who planned it, coordinated it.
“Our intelligence services and our police have now got a line of sight of what actually was happening here with the instigation, coordination and planning, and we are after those people. We are going after them [and] we have identified a good number of them.”
The unrest and looting were sparked by protests against former President Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment last week for contempt of court. Around 117 people have lost their lives as a result.
Ramaphosa lamented the destruction of property and loss of lives, which he described as “most concerning,” as well as the economic damage to South Africa as an investment destination.
‘We were overwhelmed’
The President admitted that the government was initially overwhelmed by the situation. “Yes, we could have done better, but we were overwhelmed by the situation,” he explained.
“But primary in the minds of the Minister of Police and the commanders was to save lives [and] make sure that we did not get into a situation which could have resulted in more mayhem.
“As Minister of State Security has said in the past, the situation could have been much worse and our security forces came to the party and did their best.”
Ramaphosa expressed regret about the situation that resulted in the mayhem, but commended ordinary citizens for working with law enforcement agencies to restore normalcy.
“Yes, we could have acted quicker, but they are now joining hands with us as the state. Many of our people are working together… which demonstrates that the intention of the instigators is failing. It has actually failed because it is actually our people who are coming to the defence of all our people and our democracy,” he said.
Ramaphosa was accompanied by Police Minister Bheki Cele, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala.