- President Cyril Ramaphosa touched down in Durban for a two-hour inspection of damage in the city.
- He said the government would not allow anarchy and mayhem to unfold.
- He added that intelligence services have instigators ‘in their line of sight’.
President Cyril Ramaphosa – who touched down in Durban to much fanfare – traversed the city to inspect the aftermath of mass looting and unrest.
It was the President’s first visit to the city since rioting, looting, sabotage, and lawlessness gripped KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng this week.
During his address to the media at his first stop, the Bridge City Mall in KwaMashu, Ramaphosa said there were “instigators involved” – insisting he would “go after them”.
“Our intelligence services and police now have a line of sight as to what was happening in terms of the instigation, coordination and planning and we are after those people. We are going after those people. We have identified a good number of them. We will not allow anarchy and mayhem to unfold,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the destruction of key infrastructure and commercial buildings in the province and the country was unfortunate. The organised and sustained attacks have been called “economic sabotage”.
“People have lost their lives. That is the most concerning issue. Here in KwaZulu-Natal alone, 95 people have already lost their lives and there has been complete destruction to the livelihoods of people.”
He said there was a great deal of economic damage done in the city, but also to the country.
“The economic damage that has been done to internal investors as well as [the image of South Africa] as an economic destination has been severely dented. So we’ve really been taken back from our path of economic recovery.”
‘We were slow to move’
Ramaphosa conceded that security was slow to react to the unrest.
“Yes, security forces have tried the very best that they could. I’ve been talking to our officers, our provincial commissioner, ministers, and others.
“Yes, we could have done better, but we were overwhelmed by the situation and primary in the minds of police was to save lives, and prevent a situation that could have resulted in more mayhem.”
He said that while things were bad, it could have been worse and that security forces had curtailed a far worse intent.
“The situation could have been much worse, and our security forces came to the party and did the very best they could. We regret the situation resulted in this. This is not what we want to see in our country, and we must examine everything that we do in defence of the people and assets of the country.”
Ramaphosa reiterated that 25 000 soldiers would, “… flood KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces”.
He said he noted ordinary citizens who felt they needed to defend their lives and assets and welcomed them, “… working together with security forces standing up defending their own assets, but also defending democracy”.
“This is an assault on the democratic situation we have in our country. We applaud that and that our people see there is a lot at stake.
“The instigators want to spread instability in the country, and we don’t know what their full and true intentions are, but the democratic state is what the people are defending.”
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