President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed South Africans on Friday night and admitted government was not prepared for unrest.
“As this government, we must acknowledge that we were poorly prepared for an orchestrated campaign of public violence, destruction and sabotage of this nature.”
He said the ensuing chaos was used as a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of the economy and the provision of services to people.
Ramaphosa also assured South Africans that those who instigated this violence will be held accountable for their deeds.
“We will not allow anyone to destabilise our country and get away with it,” he said.
Important points from his speech:
- Government is in the process of providing immediate food relief to households. They are targeting areas affected by the looting and where people have no access to food.
- The N3 freeway between eThekwini and Gauteng has been re-opened and security forces are in place to keep vital supply routes open.
- 25,000 members of the South African National Defence Force will help support the work of the police. Of these, 10,000 are now on the ground, with the remaining forces arriving in their respective areas of deployment over the course of the weekend.
- Once this crisis has passed, government will undertake a thorough and critical review of their preparedness and the response.
- 161 malls and shopping centres, 11 warehouses, 8 factories and 161 liquor outlets and distributors were damaged during the riots. This doesn’t include damage caused to roads & other infrastructure.
- Over 2,550 people have been arrested in connection with the unrest, and special arrangements are being put in place to ensure that these cases are prioritised.
- 118 incidents of public violence, arson, looting and other unrest-related instances were recorded.
“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,” the president said.
He said the plan is to extinguish the fires that are raging, and stamp out every last ember. And to identify and act against those who lit the flame, and those who spread it and those still attempting to do so.
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