President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on security issues and strengthened measures to restore order and stability. He assured citizens that there is no food instability in the country. The government will be helping small businesses and citizens get back on their feet through relief funds.
President Ramaphosa said the unrest was a well planned, deliberate, and coordinated attack on the democracy. The riots unfolded after Zuma’s arrest as protestors called for his release. The incitement of violence mainly in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal has become a threat and the downfall of many businesses.
“These actions are intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken or even dislodge- the democratic state. Using the pretext of political grievance, those behind these acts have sought to provoke a popular insurrection.
“They have sought to exploit the social and economic conditions under which many South Africans live- conditions that have worsened since the onset of coronavirus pandemic- and provoke ordinary citizens and criminal networks to engage in opportunistic acts of looting.
“The ensuing chaos is used as a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of our economy and the provision services,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa said SASSA is expected to resume cash pay points from 19th July in affected areas. Provincial departments of Social Development and SASSA will provide those areas with food parcels, cash, and food vouchers.
“We will also help our small businesses, including those in townships and rural areas, to heal from the damage they have suffered,” he said.
He further emphasised that there is no shortage of food or supplies, and that panic buying will only worsen the situation. The torching and vandalising of infrastructure has damaged 161 malls and shopping centres, 11 warehouses, 8 factories, 161 liquor outlets and distributors excluding damage to roads and infrastructure.
Although the riots have gained popularity with various trends on social media, Ramaphosa said they have not succeeded because of efforts taken by the security forces and South Africans that stood together. For the past few days, racial tensions were sparked as fake news and misinformation spread like wildfire. Reports of Indian and white business owners shooting at black looters made rounds on social media among other things. The president said what is worse about these trends is that they sought to manipulate the poor and vulnerable for their benefit.
The president sent prayers and condolences to families that lost their loved ones due to violence. He also thanked community leaders and citizens that helped restore peace and stability. He said that this is a pain that no family and no community should have to endure. Overall 212 people lost their lives since the outbreak of violent protests. 180 deaths have been recorded in KwaZulu-Natal and 32 in Gauteng.
The head of state commended security forces on the ground for their bravery and admitted that the state did not have the capability and plans in place to respond swiftly and decisively. The South African Police Service (SAPA) is currently investigating 131 cases of murder and has opened 81 inquest dockets in respect of 81 deaths. National Joint Operation and Intelligence Structure recorded over 188 incidents of public violence, arson, looting, and other unrest related instances. Over 2 550 people have been arrested in connection with the unrest; a special arrangement to prioritise these cases is being put in place.