The people who organised this were so well organised - Ramaphosa tells Soweto residents
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Johannesburg - The people who organised this were so well organised “they came with guns and grinders and they came to attack our democracy”, President Cyril Ramaphosa told residents in Soweto on Sunday.
Ramaphosa was on a visit to the township in his capacity as ANC president as part of the party’s Mandela Day programme.
He was there to help clean up three malls affected by the violence and looting that gripped the country for more than a week and that claimed more than 200 lives.
The violence erupted after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed after being sentenced to 15 months for contempt of court after snubbing the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture.
Ndofaya Mall, Jabulani Mall and Maponya Mall were largely affected when some Soweto residents forced entry into stores located in the malls and began looting goods.
On Ramaphosa’s first stop in Ndofaya, he briefly cleaned up a section of the mall. He then spoke to the crowd, expressing regret for what had taken place.
Eleven people died at Ndofaya Mall in a stampede caused by the looting.
The centre’s manager broke his arm in the crush, and Ramaphosa detailed how he had tried to protect the mall.
“I am told this place was so badly devastated and there was dirt everywhere. We are very sorry about those who have died, and we are going to give them the assistance that they need at this moment. The centre manager broke his arm protecting this mall and other malls,” Ramaphosa said.
The president again repeated earlier admissions that the state had not acted as soon as it should have to stop the unrest. He said it was a lesson learnt for the future.
“We have learnt important lessons. That we must tighten up our security forces and we must ensure the defence of our democracy is firmly in the hands of our people.
“The people who organised this were so well organised, they came with guns and grinders and they came to attack our democracy,” he said.
Ramaphosa is under mounting pressure as only one of the suspected masterminds of what officials have called an attempted "insurrection" has been arrested.
When asked if he would shake up his ministers responsible for security he said: "We are reviewing the situation, yes.“
Ramaphosa said the next step was to rebuild. He expressed concern for people who would now be jobless due to the closure of stores.
“Now the next step for us is to rebuild. We must rebuild from an economic point of view and find a way of supporting the workers and the businesses,” Ramaphosa said.
As he left the area, he briefly greeted a group of residents who expressed their joy in seeing him through ululating and waving.