President Cyril Ramaphosa, accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, Minister Bheki Cele, Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, received a briefing from the South African Police Service (SAPS) outside the Bridge City Shopping Centre which was looted and burnt a few days ago.
I am pleased that provincial officials, led by Premier Sihle Zikalala, MECs and other leaders, were first on the ground to assess the impact of the public violence and deal with the situation. Our soldiers and our police were also on the ground to deal with a difficult situation. pic.twitter.com/dm6bW5ahfY
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) July 16, 2021
Ramaphosa conducted an oversight visit to eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal, on Friday, July 16, to assess the impact of recent public violence and the deployment of security forces.
KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have been badly hit by protesting. A level of calm has been restored to both provinces, however, isolated incidents continue.
In tonights address, Ramaphosa has spoken about strengthened measures to restore order and stability, secure the supply of essential goods, and ensure inclusive economic recovery.
Meanwhile, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will deploy a company of soldiers to the Western Cape on Friday. The SANDF’s deployment comes after the South African Police Service battles to maintain law and order in the country.
According to a statement by the Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, this is a necessary proactive step given the unrest seen in some parts of the country.
Read also: SANDF heading to the Western Cape
The President has pinned the following tweet to the top of his Twitter feed.
Let me be clear: we will take action to protect every person in this country against the threat of violence, intimidation, theft and looting. We will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute those who perpetrate these actions and will ensure that they face the full might of our law.
— Cyril Ramaphosa 🇿🇦 #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) July 12, 2021
Here’s a summary of what Ramaphosa said in response to the violence, destruction, damage and death caused by the protesting and looting currently plaguing South Africa.
- Ramaphosa speaks of his visits to KwaZulu-Natal – sites of violence, looting and mayhem and the lives impacted in relation to livelihoods, safety, and loss of life.
- “It is clear now that the events of the past week were nothing less than a deliberate, co-ordinated and a well-planned attack on our democracy.”
- “These actions are intended to cripple the economy of our country, to cause social instability, and severely weaken or even dislodge the democratic state.”
- The ensuing chaos is used as a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage on infrastructure necessary for the functioning of the economy. They have sought to inflame racial tensions and violence.
- Social media and misinformation has inflamed racial tensions and violence. Worst of all, these instigators have sought to manipulate the poor and vulnerable for their own benefit.
- This attempted insurrection has failed. It has failed because of efforts of security forces and because South Africans have stood up in defence of our hard won democracy.
- Ramaphosa speaks about people cleaning the streets, rebuilding, and standing together. United in diversity. Young and old, men and women, black and white.
- Since the outbreak of this violence, 212 people have died. Of these, 180 occurred in Durban and 32 in Gauteng.
- The SAPS is investigating 131 cases of murder, and have opened inquest dockets in respect of 81 deaths.
- Since the height of the unrest on Monday and Tuesday, there has been a sharp decline in the number of incidents and calm has returned and is returning to most of these areas.
- Over 2 550 people have been arrested. Special arrangements are being put in place to make sure these cases are prioritised.
- The destruction of property and theft has cost billions of rands. Extensive damage has been caused to about 161 malls, 11 warehouses, 8 factories, 161 liquor outlets and distributors. This doesn’t include damage to roads and other infrastructure.
- Ramaphosa acknowledges that we were poorly prepared for an orchestrated plan of sabotage. We did not have the capabilities and the plans in place to respond swiftly and decisively. The police exercised commendable restraint to avoid escalation.
- Once this crisis has passed, we will conduct a critical and thorough review, he said. Priorities are to stabilise the country, secure supplies and infrastructure, to provide support, recovery, and rebuilding. Finally, to encourage citizens in the defence of democracy.
- He authorised the deployment of 25 000 SANDF soldiers to assist the police. Of these, 10 000 are now on the ground. The remaining forces are arriving in their respective areas of deployment over the weekend.
- The N3 has been reopened. Security forces are ensuring protection. Ports are being restored to ensure resumption of the exports and imports of goods.
- Ramaphosa is ensuring the safe transport of food, fuel, oxygen, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other critical supplies.
- He wants to emphasise that there is no shortage of food or supplies in most parts of the country. And there is therefore no need to panic-buy.
- Enforcement is working around the clock to locate and apprehend those responsible for planning and co-ordinating this violence. We will spare no effort to bring those individuals to justice, says Ramaphosa. “My instruction is very clear on this.”
- A state of emergency should only be declared when all other means of stabilising the country have shown to be inadequate. It would be a drastic limitation of basic rights in the constitution which no responsible government would want to do.
- “We will extinguish the fires that are raging and we will stamp out every last ember of this fire. We will identify and act against those who lit the flame and those who spread it and those who are still attempting to spread it.”
- We won’t allow anyone to destabilise our country or our democracy, Ramaphosa continued. This is in the end a challenge to the people of South Africa.
- The violence and destruction has done enormous damage to our economy at a time when we are trying to recover from the pandemic. Ultimately it will deepen poverty. The widespread looting will fuel further increase in COVID-19 infections.
- We are working hard to bring all SASSA offices back into operation again, he says. Services can be expected to resume from July 19 from areas safe to operate.
- The Solidarity Fund has established a humanitarian relief fund. We call on all South Africans to support this fund, Ramaphosa requests.
- A team in the Presidency and the economic cluster are hard at work to develop a comprehensive support package for cabinet’s consideration. “We will make a further announcement soon.”
- While calm has returned to most of KZN and Gauteng, the threat to our democracy remains present and real.
- “Those responsible for organising this campaign of violence and destruction have not all yet been apprehended and their networks have not yet been dismantled. But we know who they are and the police are on their tracks.”
- Ramaphosa thanks journalists who have been reporting as the events have been unfolding. He has watched many of them get into very dangerous situations so that we may all be informed and empowered.
- This coming Sunday we will join people around the world in celebrating Mandela Day, Ramaphosa reminds us. Let us use the day to provide food to the most vulnerable, to clean up our streets, and to start the task of rebuilding, he continues.
- “Let us speak of the triumph of our constitution, not it’s destruction. We will never allow this great project of humanity, our South African democracy to fail.”