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‘We defeated an attempt to weaken, topple the state’

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

FLANKED by the chiefs of the military and police, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa presented a show of strength, power, and carried messages designed to restore the confidence of the nation in the government.

The democratic state, he asserted in a special address to the nation, was tested by the unprecedented violence and looting, was found wanting but was able to regroup quickly, stabilize the country and restore peace and stability.

The battle had been won but the war against the constitutional state was still on, he warned.

Hours before the address, General Rudzani Maphanywa, Chief of the South African National Defence Force declared, during a visit to Alexandra, one of the looting flashpoints, that: ”Force will be met with force.”

During his televised special address – his second in five days – Ramaphosa also sought to be honest with a nation looking at him for answers to the worst violence and challenge since the dawn of democracy. He also admitted that the SA Police Service was caught unprepared by the violence, which he said was well orchestrated.

Ramaphosa said: “The current instability and ongoing incitement to the violence constitutes a direct contravention of the constitution and the rule of law. The constitutional order of our country is under threat. These actions are intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken – or even dislodge –  the democratic state. Using the pretext of a political grievance, those behind these acts have sought to provoke a popular insurrection. 

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“They have sought to exploit the social and economic conditions under which many South African live, conditions that have worsened since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and to provoke citizens and criminals to engage in opportunistic acts of looting.

“The ensuing chaos is used as an economic smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructures necessary for the functioning of our economy and the provision of services to our people,” Ramaphosa said.

He said despite the widespread destruction, the attempted insurrection failed to gain popular support. He said it failed because of the efforts of the SA security forces, and because South Africans rejected it and stood up in defence of the hard-won democracy.

Ramaphosa also sought to reassure South Africans that, after a bad start, the government was winning the war against the insurrection which had claimed the lives of 212 people in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. 

He said on top of the 2500 people who had been arrested, the key instigators of the unrest were known and would all be arrested soon.

“In addition to supporting the police in maintaining order, SANDF members have been deployed to protect key installations and commercial sites that are vital to the functioning of the economy and the uninterrupted provision of services to citizens. Specialised units of our law enforcement agencies are working around the clock to locate and apprehend those responsible for planning and coordinating this violence.  We will spare no effort in bringing these individuals to justice,” he said.

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The President outlined the extent of the damage caused during SA’s week from hell. There were 118 incidents of public violence, arson and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Extensive damage has been caused to 161 malls and shopping centres, 11 warehouses, 8 factories and 161 liquor outlets and distributors.

Ramaphosa unveiled measures to stabilize the country, which include the deployment of  25 000 members of the South African National Defence Force in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to support the work of the police. “Of these, 10,000 are now on the ground, with the remaining forces arriving in their respective areas of deployment over the course of the weekend,” he said.

He also outlined the progress that was being made to secure the SA logistics infrastructure as follows:

  • –  The N3 freeway between eThekwini and Gauteng has been reopened and security forces are in place to keep vital supply routes open.
  • –  The security forces were working with business to ensure the safe transport of fuel, food, oxygen, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other critical supplies.
  • –  Operations at the ports of Durban and Richards Bay were being restored to enable the resumption of exports and imports.
  • –  Regulations have been issued in terms of the Competition Act to enable firms involved in the supply of essential goods to share information about the availability and demand for certain goods. “This is to help prevent shortages of essential goods and promote the equitable distribution of scarce essential goods across the country.
    “These measures will ensure that supply chains remain intact. I want to emphasise that there is no shortage of food or supplies in most parts of the country, and that panic buying will only worsen the situation.
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Ramaphosa said in addition to supporting the police in maintaining order, SANDF members have been deployed to protect key installations and commercial sites that are vital to the functioning of the economy and the uninterrupted provision of services to citizens. “Specialised units of our law enforcement agencies are working around the clock to locate and apprehend those responsible for planning and coordinating this violence.
We will spare no effort in bringing these individuals to justice.”

By The African Mirror

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