September 20, 2021

South Africa: President Ramaphosa denounces attempt to provoke ‘insurgency’

The violence that has agitated South Africa since July 9 and which has left at least 212 dead, ‘was planned and coordinated’ by people trying to ‘provoke a popular uprising among our people’ accused President Cyril Ramaphosa, during a televised address, Friday evening July 16.

In a speech to the Nation broadcast on television the same evening, Cyril Ramaphosa said those he considered to be at the origin of the violence which has rocked South Africa in recent days have sought to ‘provoke a popular uprising among our people ‘.

‘More than 2,550 people have been arrested in connection with the unrest and special arrangements have been put in place to ensure that these cases are given priority,’ the South African president said, adding that ‘everything will be done to translate these people to justice ‘.

The head of state also admitted that the country was ‘little prepared for an orchestrated operation of public violence, destruction and sabotage of this scale’.

‘Economic sabotage’

Cyril Ramaphosa also called on his compatriots on Friday evening not to rush into the shops, assuring that there would be no shortage of food and supplies in the country after days of violence, riots and looting.

‘Since the height of the unrest on Monday and Tuesday, the number of incidents has fallen sharply and calm has returned to most regions,’ said the South African president, according to whom 161 shopping centers, 11 warehouses, 8 factories and 161 liquor stores were damaged in the riots.

The day before, the Minister of the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, had denounced ‘economic sabotage’.

The first incidents erupted in the province of Kwazulu-Natal, in the east, last week, the day after the incarceration of the former president Jacob Zuma, sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of justice. They then spread to the greater Johannesburg area, amid rampant unemployment and new anti-Covid restrictions.

The president, visiting for the first time in the Zulu province since the beginning of this crisis, one of the most severe crossed by the country since the advent of post-apartheid democracy, assured that he had remained in contact, hour per hour, with provincial officials and law enforcement. He said he was ‘extremely concerned about what happened here’. The destruction ‘takes us back, in terms of economic recovery’, regretted Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the metropolitan area of Johannesburg, six additional deaths were recorded on Friday, bringing the total to 32, detailed the Minister of the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, during a press briefing, while in the province of Kwazulu-Natal, 89 more deaths were added to Thursday’s tally, bringing the total death toll to 212.