After a week of violence, the military is deployed in parts of South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa sees targeted provocations by backers as the trigger for the unrest. He would not tolerate anarchy.
The days of protests and looting in parts of South Africa with 121 dead were coordinated by backers, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa. In a shopping center in the port city of Durban secured by three army tanks, he condemned the violence on Friday as an attack on democracy. “It is obvious that all of these incidents and looting were instigated; there were people who planned them, who coordinated them,” said the 68-year-old. As a result, some have been identified. You are wanted. “We will not allow anarchy and unrest in our country,” he said.
Looking at the number of victims, the situation could have turned out worse, said Ramaphosa. “Yes, we could have been better, but we were overwhelmed by the situation.” The main goal of the police was to avoid further loss of life. The aim of the unnamed backers was to destabilize the economy, said Ramaphosa. Contrary to what has been assumed, the violence is not ethnic.
Army chief: “Will answer violence with violence”
In the Alexandra township near Johannesburg, the armed forces chief, General Rudzani Maphwanga, warned after the demonstrative landing of a heavy transport helicopter: “We will answer violence with violence; we will not allow any economic sabotage.”
South Africa’s government has mobilized another 25,000 soldiers to end the violent protests in the affected provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the metropolitan area around the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg (Gauteng province). It is one of the largest military operations in the history of a democratic South Africa.
Supply bottlenecks in troubled provinces
According to Ramaphosa, 95 people were killed in KwaZulu-Natal alone. The day before, 117 deaths were officially announced nationwide – 91 of them in the coastal province, where there were reports of isolated attacks on Friday night. The supply bottlenecks are worsening there. One problem is the blocking of important transport routes, warned consumer organizations. The strategically important motorway between Durban and Johannesburg reopened during the day. Refinery closures resulted in long lines in front of Durban’s few open gas stations. The government warned against buying hamsters and banned the filling of petrol cans.
Since drug stores and clinics have also been looted, drugs are in short supply. According to the dairy organization Sampro, farmers also have to destroy milk as it cannot be transported from the stables.
The protests were initially directed against the imprisonment of ex-President Jacob Zuma from KwaZulu-Natal, who was sentenced to 15 months for disregarding the judiciary. The protests were then followed by widespread riots.