South Africa

South Africa: President Ramaphosa says he won't allow 'anarchy'

Published : July 17, 2021 15:28 IST

Security agencies had identified a number of people suspected of instigating the recent violence. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Security agencies in South Africa say they have identified the alleged instigators of the violence in the country.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on July 16 said security agencies had identified a number of people suspected of instigating the violence which he believes to have been planned.

One alleged instigator of the nearly week-long unrest in the country has already been arrested while more are being pursued by security agencies. Violence and looting were seen across the country following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.

Ramaphosa: Anarchy and mayhem will not win

Ramaphosa's comments came during a visit to the Ethekwini Municipality, part of the KwaZulu-Natal province that includes the port city of Durban. This was one of the areas worst hit by unrest, with many businesses destroyed and more than 100 people killed.

The presidency's office said Ramaphosa was visiting KwaZulu-Natal, "to assess the impact of recent public violence and the deployment of security forces." The official death toll stands at 117 with 91 killed in KwaZulu-Natal and 26 in Gauteng.

The president said his government would not allow "anarchy and mayhem" to unfold in the country. "We obviously as a government are extremely concerned at what happened here, and we are doing everything to deal with it, and it's quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated," Ramaphosa said. He added that 25,000 soldiers would be deployed to flashpoints soon.

Ramaphosa also expressed concern about the rising racial tensions in some parts of the country caused by the unrest. Some white minority and Indian communities took up arms to fight off rioters, reports suggested.

Nobody will challenge state authority, says army chief

On July 16, Defence Commander Rudzani Maphwanya landed an Oryx helicopter in Alexandra township, one of the most disturbed areas of Johannesburg, to examine the progress of his soldiers.

"We are not going to allow thugs, crooks to continue unabated," Maphwanya said, calling the looting a menace to "national integrity."

"We are going to make sure that there's nobody who is going to challenge the authority of the state," he added. "We will meet force with force."

The violence has sparked concern that supply of food, fuel and medicine would be cut, with long queues forming outside Durban grocery shops. Agriculture Minister Thoko Diduza asked people not to go "panic buying" as this could interrupt "food supply chains."

Business Unity South Africa said the unrest "requires the state to take immediate action" in what it called "an emergency unparalleled in our democratic history." Official sources stated that 2,203 people had been arrested for crimes such as burglary.

on/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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