Cyril Ramaphosa moves to restore order after days of unrest, warns of medication and food insecurity
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DURBAN - PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa will mobilise all available resources and capabilities to restore order.
Speaking last night, Ramaphosa said the government would take action to protect every person against threats of violence, intimidation, theft and looting.
“We will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute those who perpetrate these actions and we will ensure that they face the full might of our law,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that in order to continue rebuilding the country, calm and order needed to be restored.
“What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft,” Ramaphosa said.
While Ramaphosa again did not mention that the violence appeared to have at least initially been triggered by the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma, he said there was no grievance nor any political cause that could justify the violence and the destruction in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“Some have characterised these actions as a form of political protest. This violence may indeed have its roots in the pronouncements and activities of individuals with a political purpose, and in expressions of frustration and anger.”
He said the Constitution was clear on guaranteeing every person the right to protest, but said that victims of the violence were workers, truck drivers, business owners, parents and the families of those who have lost their lives.
He released the names of 10 people who had died in Gauteng and KZN.
Ramaphosa said the victims had done nothing wrong.
“Although these may be opportunistic acts of looting driven by hardship and poverty, the poor and the marginalised bear the ultimate brunt of the destruction that is currently under way,” Ramaphosa said.
He said that with the destruction of infrastructure, medication delivery was hampered, and food would not reach supermarkets.
“We will be facing a huge risk of food insecurity and medication insecurity in a few weeks,” he said.
Ramaphosa added that the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme had also been severely disrupted just as it was gaining momentum.
He said that apart from the deployment of soldiers, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure – known as NatJoints – had intensified deployments in all the affected areas in KZN and Gauteng.
The police had also called up operational members from leave and rest days to increase the presence of law enforcement personnel on the ground.
Ramaphosa said in addition to greater visibility and an intelligence-driven presence in potential hot spots, the prosecution of suspects alleged to be involved in this violence would be prioritised.
He said the National Security Council would be meeting twice a day to co-ordinate all measures necessary to restore stability.
The president also appealed that no one should take the law into their own hands.
“Rather, we should join those individuals and communities who are working with the police to prevent looting, and those members of the public who have provided tip-offs and information about instances of criminality.
“I wish to thank all operational members and commanders of the SAPS and other agencies for their response to acts of violence and provocation, which has helped to avert bloodshed and limit the loss of lives.
“The path of violence, of looting and anarchy leads only to more violence and devastation as well as more suffering. It leads to more poverty, more unemployment and more loss of innocent life.
“This is not who we are as South Africans. This is not us,” he said.
Meanwhile there has been mixed reaction to the deployment of SANDF soldiers from political parties.
EFF leader Julius Malema tweeted that his party members would join the social unrest should the ANC government deploy the army instead of finding a political solution.
“No soldiers on our streets! Otherwise, we are joining. All fighters must be ready ... they won’t kill us all. We need a political solution to a political problem, not soldiers #NoToSoldiers,” he tweeted. However, other parties disagreed. Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said: “There must be law and order in this country. It can never be that a few people are trying to keep the whole country hostage. If Malema and his party decide to join the looters, then the law enforcement agencies must deal with anybody who is breaking the law.”
Bloem said it was clear the police were doing their best, but they were outnumbered in some areas by the looters.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said: “All party leaders must meet urgently to discuss a way forward and help restore law and order. We cannot afford any more of the dithering and hesitancy that put us in this situation.”
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said: “Where is Police Minister Bheki Cele? Something is not right.”
REACTING to a further two-week ban on alcohol sales countrywide, the Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) will be submitting an urgent Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to obtain data on how alcohol sales impacted the decision to extend the fourth alcohol ban.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced lockdown level 4 restrictions would remain in place – which included a ban on alcohol sales – for another two weeks amid the rising numbers of Covid-19 infections in the country’s third wave.
Basa said they would be submitting their urgent PAIA application to the National Covid Command Council (NCCC) to obtain the data.
“The latest alcohol ban, which has been in place since June 28, has already served a devastating blow to the alcohol industry, putting an estimated 4 603 jobs at risk as well as potential loss of R5.1 billion in taxes and excise duties. In all our discussions with government, it has been acknowledged that the main driver of infections is large gatherings and the failure to observe mask wearing and social distancing protocols.
“We have also not been provided with the data showing the link between alcohol and increased hospital admissions, despite requesting this from government on numerous occasions. We have therefore decided to submit our PAIA application in order to understand the rationale for the extension of the current ban when it is clear that thousands more jobs will be shed and billions more will be lost to the national fiscus,” said Basa.
The association added that they were yet to see the industry being supported by the Covid-19 Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme (Ters) funding promised to industries affected by the current lockdown.
Meanwhile, alcohol industry partners, Vinpro, said they would forge ahead with their court action after lodging an urgent interim interdict bid last month to halt the blanket ban on alcohol sales in the province.
Vinpro spokesperson, Wanda Augustyn said although the ban was intended to ensure that hospitals have the capacity to treat those who become ill according to the government, the pandemic affected provinces differently at any given point.
“Capacity requirements will differ across the country. Despite this, the government has never differentiated between provinces ... instead, a nationwide ban has been imposed without regard for the circumstances in respective provinces.’
Vinpro managing director, Rico Basson, said many wine businesses were at the edge of a cliff and the livelihoods of thousands of employees were being endangered.
SAB vice president for corporate affairs, Zoleka Lisa, said they supported measures taken to curb the third wave and ease the pressure on the health system, but not the blanket ban.