Gunshots, looting, explosions, death and violence have plagued the country this week following former President Jacob Zuma’s arrest. #ZumaUnrest riots have increased in both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. A “community versus the protestors” narrative has begun to unfold as civilians take matters into their own hands, shooting at protestors and creating barricades blocking rioters from entering neighbourhoods.
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Meanwhile in Durban, South Africa armed citizens are dealing with the thugs who tried to loot a factory and shops. pic.twitter.com/JJ1db6ikaY
— 🧢מאק (@beingrealmac) July 12, 2021
— Rob Beezy (@TrafficSA) July 12, 2021
Mosque on fire: Mayville Durban. pic.twitter.com/q6aS53epAb
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) July 12, 2021
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation tonight, July 12, in response to the ongoing violence and destruction. Here’s a summary of what was said.
- The President begins speaking with a “heavy heart.” Ramaphosa acknowledges this violence as a rare moment in history, and people have died.
- South Africans are anxious and afraid.
- Violence, property destruction, looting and loss of life are widespread. It started with burning of trucks in Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal.
- Ramaphosa says these acts have roots in political protest. However, what we are witnessing now are opportunistic accounts of criminality with groups of people instigating chaos. There is no grievance or political cause that can justify these actions, he says.
- Our constitution guarantees the right for people to protest, to organise, to engage in free expression and free association. This was a right that was fought for in our country.
- 166 suspects have been arrested in KZN and 326 arrested in Gauteng in relation to these incidents. Nevertheless, violence continues in these two provinces and is spilling over into others, including Mpumalanga.
- The poor and the marginalised are bearing the brunt of the ultimate destruction currently underway.
- The sick cannot get medicine, healthcare workers can’t get to work, people can’t get food. We will soon face a huge risk of food insecurity and medication insecurity in a few weeks.
- The vaccination programme has been severely disrupted just as it has started to gain momentum. This will have lasting effects in weeks to come. These disruptions will cost lives, says the President.
- “This is not who we are as South Africans. This is not us,” he adds.
- It is a matter of vital importance that “we restore calm without any delay.”
- We are therefore turning to all available resources and capabilities to restore order in the country, said Ramaphosa.
- Ramaphosa has authorised the deployment of the defence force personnel in support of the operations of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
- Intelligence structure, Natjoints, has intensified deployment in all affected areas in KZN and Gauteng.
- The SAPS is putting measures in place to call up operational members from leave and rest days to increase the presence of law enforcement on the ground.
- The Natjoints is receiving support from the intelligence coordinating committee, comprising of SAPS crime intelligence, defence intelligence, and state security.
- In addition, Ramaphosa will be prioritising the prosecution of suspects involved in alleged violence.
- The National Security Council will meet twice a day to coordinate all measures necessary to restore stability.
- “I’d like to be clear. We will take action to protect every person in this country against the threat of violence, intimidation, theft and looting.”
- There will be no hesitation to arrest perpetrators. Will ensure that they face the full might of our law, emphasised the President. “This is a clear instruction that I have given our security personnel.”
- “We will restore calm and order so that we can get on with the task of rebuilding this country and rebuilding a better life for its people.”
- This afternoon, Ministers in security and economic clusters met with Business Unity SA to take stock. They agreed to work together to ensure the safety of truck drivers, cashiers, and customers. We have to restore key supply chains that drive our economy, continued Ramaphosa.
- Ramaphosa is making arrangements for government leaders and public representatives as part of their responsibilities to meet with leaders in various communities to promote stability.
- “We have to do everything to calm the situation. We should refrain from posting inflammatory messages on social media and spread reports that could cause panic. No one should take the law into their own hands.”
- There is danger that these events could lead to an even greater surge and put more pressure on the vaccination rollout. There is also a danger that our vaccination programme will be disrupted. We cannot allow this to happen. We will not allow this to happen. We’ve got to act, said the President.
- We cannot allow a few people among us to threaten this collective effort and stop us on our path to putting in place economic reforms and reconstruction, he continued.
- “Let us choose the path of peace and renewal and shun violence.”