No justification for violent, destructive behaviour, says Ramaphosa
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CAPE TOWN: There is no justification for violent protests, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday, adding that the recent acts could be based on ethnic mobilisation.
“While there are those who may be hurt and angry at this moment, there can never be any justification for such violent, destructive and disruptive actions,” Ramaphosa said in a televised interview.
Ramaphosa said the South African Constitution guaranteed everyone’s right to freely express themselves and to engage in peaceful protests.
“It is a matter of concern to all South Africans that some of these acts of violence are based on ethnic mobilisation,” Ramaphosa said.
“This must be condemned by all South Africans, at all costs, as we are a nation committed to non-racialism and non-tribalism, that is underpinned by the diversity and unity of all the people of South Africa, whatever their language, culture, religious beliefs and race,” said Ramaphosa.
On Sunday, police said 62 suspects were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, in connection with violent protests that have erupted in the two provinces.
According to a statement issued by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints), the police in Gauteng and KZN, with their respective local metro police departments, have heightened visibility and remain on high alert.
Protesters took to the streets across the country, after former president Jacob Zuma handed himself over to police, to serve his 15-month prison sentence.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa said that key infrastructure like national roads were affected by the protests, that slowed down the transportation of goods and services – all of which keep the economy running.
“In the past few days, we have seen sporadic but increasingly violent protests in some parts of the country. Property has been destroyed,” he said.
“Cars have been stoned. People have been intimidated and threatened, and some have even been hurt. These acts are endangering lives and damaging our efforts to rebuild the economy,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa said the commitment to South Africa’s democratic Constitution was based on the “fundamental principle that all people are equal before the law, and that all people have the right to equal protection before the law”.
He said the rule of law safeguarded against abuse of power.
Zuma was incarcerated at the Estcourt Correctional Facility, which is a Medium B Facility, that houses both youth and adult inmates.
As a precaution and in line with Covid-19 measures, Zuma will be placed in isolation for 14 days.
He will then be assessed by the facility’s medical team in conjunction with the South African health military service, and this will determine the conditions of his incarceration.
Ramaphosa condemned the spread of fake news, images and videos – urging people to be careful before sharing anything on social media.
He said sharing false images and videos created confusion, and that some people deliberately or unknowingly spread videos and images that were taken many years ago or were shared without context.
“Since the advent of democracy, institutions like the Constitutional Court have been at the forefront of improving the lives of South Africans,” Ramaphosa said.
“Let us be clear, as a nation, that we will not tolerate acts of criminality. Those who are involved in acts of violence will be arrested and prosecuted,” he added.
“Those found guilty of breaking the lockdown regulations will receive the stipulated penalty. This will be done without fear or favour,” concluded Ramaphosa.