- A stern President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday evening on government's response to the widespread acts of public violence and looting that have erupted in certain parts of the country
- This is after widespread pro-Zuma demonstrations broke out mainly in KwaZulu-Natal before spilling over into Gauteng with various areas in the two provinces being affected
- In a decisive move by government, the president said resources will be mobilised and action will be taken to protect every person against the threat of violence and intimidation, among others
Addressing the nation on Monday evening amid a tumultuous last few days of widespread public violence and looting, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to protect citizens against the threat of violence, intimidation, theft and looting.
In his address, Ramaphosa acknowledged the destruction which has been caused to property, the looting of shops and businesses, and the reports of threats against law-abiding citizens.
"Even as we know the high cost of this violence to property, to livelihoods and to businesses, the loss of human life is the greatest cost of all," said Ramaphosa.
"Many South Africans are at this hour counting the cost to their livelihoods and property, to their shops and businesses, to their safety and security. Many more South Africans are feeling anxious and afraid.
"Parts of the country are reeling from several days and nights of public violence, destruction of property and looting of the sort rarely seen before in the history of our democracy."
The president gave an update on strides made by police in arresting those deemed to be involved in various criminal acts.
In Gauteng, which has also experienced the blocking of roads and burning of trucks, more than 300 suspects have been arrested while more than 160 have been nabbed in KwaZulu-Natal.
"Thanks to the work of our law enforcement agencies, 166 suspects have been arrested in KwaZulu-Natal and 323 suspects had been arrested in Gauteng in relation to these incidents."
Ramaphosa concurs with political rhetoric amid violent protests outbreak
Ramaphosa acknowledged the possibility that the protests have taken on the form of a so-called political statement by those involved. He, however, lamented the continued violence labelling it as "a cover for looting and theft."
"Nevertheless, violence is continuing in many areas. Some have characterised these actions as a form of political protest," said Ramaphosa.
"This violence may indeed have its roots in the pronouncements and activities of individuals with a political purpose, and in expressions of frustration and anger.
"At the beginning of this unrest, there may have been some people who sought to agitate for violence and disorder along ethnic lines. We know that the majority of our people have out of principle refused to be mobilised along these lines.
"However, what we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft. There is no grievance, nor any political cause, that can justify the violence and destruction that we have seen in parts of KZN and Gauteng."
SANDF to support operations of the South African Police Service
Ramaphosa said steps have been taken to provide redress to the situation before it spills over even further. As a result, and in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the South African Defence Force, he has activated the army.
He added that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is putting measures in place to beef up personnel in a concerted effort to confront the social upheaval head-on.
"It is of vital importance that we restore calm and stability to all parts of the country without delay. It is vital that we prevent any further loss of life or injury. It is vital that we protect property and safeguard social and economic infrastructure.
"We are, therefore, mobilising all available resources and capabilities to restore order. As the Commander-in-Chief, I have today authorised the deployment of Defence Force personnel in support of the operations of the SAPS.
"The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure – known as NatJOINTS – has intensified deployments in all the affected areas in KZN and Gauteng. The SAPS is [will] call up members from leave and rest-days to increase the presence of law enforcement personnel on the ground."
Stern warning for those perpetuating acts of criminality and violence
Ramaphosa said in addition to greater visibility and an intelligence-driven presence in potential hotspots, government will be prioritising the prosecution of suspects alleged to be involved in acts of violence.
As part of a decisive strategy that has been devised, he said the National Security Council (NSC) will be meeting twice a day to coordinate all measures necessary to restore stability.
"Let me be clear: we will take action to protect every person in this country against the threat of violence, intimidation, theft and looting," the president declared.
"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. We will restore calm and order so that we can get on with the task of rebuilding this country and creating a better life for its people."
‘Anti-Zuma imprisonment’ protests spiral in KZN, scores arrested
Briefly News reported recently that police had confirmed the arrest of at least thirteen people in the purported anti-Zuma imprisonment protests which have erupted in various parts of KZN.
This number has since increased as more than a hundred more have been taken into police custody.
This is after former president Jacob Zuma’s daughter, Dudu Zuma-Sambudla insinuated on social media that the widespread public demonstrations were in retaliation over the arrest of her father.
Zuma handed himself over to law enforcement officials shortly before midnight on Wednesday and subsequently incarcerated at the Estcourt Correctional Services Centre.
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Source: Briefly News