President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday said a week-long spree of violence and pillaging that has shocked South Africa had been “planned” and vowed to seek out those responsible, because the price from the unrest reached 212.
“It is sort of clear that each one these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated — there have been people that planned it and coordinated it,” Ramaphosa said during a visit to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, the flare point for post-apartheid South Africa’s worst crisis.
“We are going after them,” Ramaphosa told reporters.
“We have identified an honest number of them, and that we won’t allow anarchy and mayhem to only unfold in our country.” A minister in Ramaphosa’s office Khumbudzo Ntshavheni later told reporters the investigations “are at a really advanced stage.” one of the suspected instigators has been arrested and 11 are under surveillance, she said.
Shopping malls and warehouses are ransacked in KZN and Johannesburg, stoking fears of shortages and inflicting a devastating blow to the already battered economy.
Of the 212 people killed, 180 died in KZN, consistent with government figures.
Some of the fatalities were shot et al. died in looting stampedes.
Ntshavheni said things within the affected regions were “gradually and firmly returning to normality.” The unrest followed protests triggered by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma, who was handed a 15-month jail term for snubbing a corruption investigation.
Zuma, whose home province is KZN, commands support among loyalists within the ruling African National Congress (ANC), who portray him as a champion of the poor.
In scenes that have stunned the state, looters have casually plundered stores, pharmacies, and in one case a bank, hauling away goods as police stood by, seemingly powerless to act.