President Ramaphosa attempts to assure the nation following unrest
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A stern president Cyril Ramaphosa assured the nation on Friday night, that those who "lit the flame" on the violence seen this week will be apprehended.
Ramaphosa's address follows days of unrest and looting, which were mainly focused in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. A total of 212 people have died so far following the looting. One hundred and eighty people died in KZN, while 32 died in Gauteng.
Ramaphosa described the damage caused to factories, 11 warehouses and 161 malls and more than 100 liquor outlets. SAPS has begun investigating 131 cases of murder, and inquests have been opened into 81 deaths.
Ramaphosa labelled the unrest as a deliberate, coordinated and well planned attack on the economy, democracy and the constitution. He said those behind these actions exploited the social and economic conditions rampant in the country.
Ramaphosa assured citizens that law enforcement agencies were on track to apprehend those behind the unrest and looting.
"We know who they are, and the police are on their track and are already behind them," Ramaphosa said.
The president said the attempted insurrection failed because security forces were able to respond. However, he also admitted that the government had acted too late and should have pre-empted the violence.
He said a review of preparedness would be conducted and that it was paramount to stabilise the country, securing essential supplies and providing relief and support in efforts to re-build.
Ramaphosa assured South Africans that the presence of law enforcement had been increased, with 25 000 SANDF members to be deployed in total. He said 10 000 were already on the ground, and the further remaining number would be deployed over the weekend.
The president said, with regards to recovery efforts, the N3 had been re-opened, and the government was also working with businesses to ensure food supplies and various critical ports re-open. He said the Solidarity Fund would assist those in need, while the government will come up with a plan to assist small businesses.
Following various calls for a state of emergency to be declared, Ramaphosa said this was not needed because adequate laws were in place.
"Security forces will be able to restore order and prevent further violence," Ramaphosa said.
"We will extinguish the fires that are raging and stamp out every last ember. We will identify and act against those who lit the flame and those who spread it. We will find those who instigated this violence.
"They will be held accountable for their deeds. We will not allow anyone to destabilise our country and get away with it. We will not allow any person or any group to challenge the authority of our democratically elected government," he said.
Ramaphosa said the Department of Social Development would use its remaining Covid-19 relief to assist with providing food parcels. Sassa offices that were closed for the week, will re-open on Monday, Ramaphosa said.
He called on communities to help with rebuilding but also ensuring that divisions were not used to fuel violence.