The deadly violence and looting that have rocked South Africa for the past week were planned, President Cyril Ramaphosa has alleged, during his first visit to areas affected by the worst unrest in the country’s post-apartheid era.
“It is quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated, there were people who planned it and coordinated it,” he said on Friday.
Ramaphosa made the remarks when he visited Ethikwini Municipality, which includes the port city Durban in KwaZulu-Natal province, one of the worst-hit areas in a week of looting that destroyed hundreds of businesses. At least 117 people have died, some shot and others killed in looting stampedes.
“We are going after them, we have identified a good number of them, and we will not allow anarchy and mayhem to just unfold in our country,” Ramaphosa told reporters.
The government said on Thursday that one of the suspected instigators had been arrested and 11 were under surveillance. In all, 2,203 people have been arrested during the unrest for various offences, including theft.
Ramaphosa did admit, however, that his government could have acted “quicker” to prevent the unrest and expressed concerns about growing racial tensions in KwaZulu-Natal.