South Africa

The Aftermath

‘This attempted insurrection has failed’ – President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on Sunday, 11 July 2021, extending lockdown level 4. (Photo: GCIS)

In an address to the nation on Friday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa used strong words to describe the unrest of the past week and the consequences for those responsible for instigating it. Acknowledging that authorities were unprepared for the violence, he pledged economic support for those affected.

“It is clear now that the events of the last week were nothing but a deliberate, well planned and coordinated attack on our democracy,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told South Africans on Friday night, following a week of looting and violence that left the country reeling.

The instigators of the unrest, Ramaphosa said, had intended to “cripple the economy”, “severely weaken or even dislodge the democratic state”, and “provoke a popular insurrection”.

He said that conditions of poverty and unemployment had been exploited, and the poor and vulnerable manipulated.

“This attempted insurrection has failed,” Ramaphosa said.

“It has failed to gain popular support among our people. South Africans have rejected it.”

While the situation has stabilised in most parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the president warned that danger persisted as long as those responsible have not been apprehended “and their networks dismantled”.

But even though only one alleged instigator has been arrested to date, Ramaphosa said that the identity of the others was known.

A few hours earlier, Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni explained to the media that the name of the arrested individual cannot yet be released because he or she has not yet been charged and appeared before a court of law. Ntshavheni would also not be drawn on what charges instigators could expect to face.

Asked by journalists what evidence authorities had that the unrest had been choreographed, Ntshavheni replied: “All South Africans can realise this thing was planned”.

She said she could not reveal details of evidence, but that the plunder of ammunition depots suggested coordination and that social media showed clear proof of planning.

President Ramaphosa gave a sober tallying-up of the human toll: at least 212 lives lost, with 180 fatalities in KwaZulu-Natal and 32 in Gauteng. Police have opened dockets for 131 cases of murder so far.

The destruction of property and theft of goods has cost “billions and billions of rands”, Ramaphosa said. Over 118 incidents of public violence, arson, looting and other unrest have been recorded over the past week. 161 malls and shopping centres have been looted; 11 warehouses; 8 factories; 161 liquor outlets.

There has been further damage to roads and other infrastructure.

As he had done earlier in the day while on a walkabout around parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Ramaphosa admitted that the initial government response left something to be desired.  

“We must acknowledge that we were poorly prepared for an orchestrated campaign of public violence,” the president said. Plans were not in place to respond “swiftly and decisively”.

But he was also full of praise for both the police – for exercising “commendable restraint” – and the army, for bringing the situation under control within 48 hours of deployment.

Ramaphosa further paid tribute to ordinary South Africans, who he said had shown great courage and grit in “defending our democracy” and in participating in clean-up efforts thereafter.

The president hinted, in fact, that he wished regular public clean-up efforts to become a part of South African life – as is done in countries like Rwanda, where citizens are required to do community work once a month.

Ramaphosa said that government was in the process of providing “immediate food relief” in areas hardest hit by looting, like Ulundi. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department of Social Development have been ordered to use their remaining budgets to provide food vouchers and cash to those in need. The Solidarity Fund has also established a humanitarian crisis relief fund to be drawn on.

When it comes to the businesses affected by looting, the president said that a team was hard at work preparing a “comprehensive support package”, of which details would be announced soon.

Ramaphosa said that although calls to establish a State of Emergency were “understandable” under the circumstances, he was of the view that this “drastic limitation of basic rights” should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

Earlier, Ntshavheni had announced the re-opening of the N2 and N3 highways, with the transportation of food and fuel recommencing. As such, the minister said that food and fuel shortages should be abated soon.

But Ramaphosa was at pains to spell out the disastrous effects of the week’s activities.

The South African economy would be enormously damaged at a time when it is already suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown, he said. The unrest would “deepen poverty and cause even greater hardship”.

The looting will likely lead to an uptick in Covid-19 infections, and it has disrupted a vaccination programme which was finally picking up speed.

Concluding on a more positive note, he urged South Africans to use Sunday’s Mandela Day to “reaffirm our commitment to our democracy”.

Said Ramaphosa: “Let us speak of the triumph of our Constitution, not its destruction”. DM



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Charles Parr says:

    CR, what you said last night was that you and your forces arrived too late for the revolution and at least you’re all safe and have a handle on it now. You might make a newsreader after all but you just need to look more convinced about what you’re saying.

  • Coen Gous says:

    The empty words of a lame President. The insurrection has not failed. It was highly effective. Billions of rands lost. Lives lost. Hunger, joblessness, fear, anxiety. And who is to say this is over?
    Until I see real corrective action, this was and will remain the worst speech ever by this President. This include the arrests of those behind it, inclusive of Zuma family members, REC members. The leaders of the police and SSA fired and replaced by capable “non-cadre” individuals. The public denouncement of Zuma, and admitting that he was the one that started it all some 14 years ago.
    I am sorry Mr. President. Your words were empty, and those that suffered directly and indirectly (the whole population) will never forgive you for the failures of your government, and the failures of your party.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Regardless of whether I’m correct in my assessment that Cyril is really trying hard to achieve a virtually impossible feat against ridiculous odds, I really am not clear on the desired outcome of your comments…

      – to moan Cyril to a standstill so he goes stuff this and resigns?
      – to shock the millions of hungry, uneducated, unemployed people into looking up the meaning of the word “denouncement” so they find enlightenment and suddenly vote like they have an Oxford degree?

      …I truly am not sure, however interestingly for me in this comment you actively deny South Africa the most important healing tool of all – forgiveness.

      I really hope for everyone’s sake it is really just about you, as without forgiveness South Africa’s demise is certain.

      • JOHN TOWNSEND says:

        Sorry if I misunderstand you, but are you really saying we should forgive all involved in the treasonous actions of this past week? I would say with forgiveness S.A.’s demise is certain

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          Oh, it’s clear now! let’s all continue fighting each other forever and all will be well. Thanks for the extraordinary insight John, I stand corrected.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          @john this is just a quick apology for my previous response. I came onto your comment after reading another that annoyed me and overplayed my hand unfairly.

          So, to provide hopefully one that it more considered…

          I’m not 100% sure but I think we may be communicating at cross purposes. I view Justice as entirely distinct from Forgiveness.

          Regarding Justice in this context: I believe the looters and those who organised them should most certainly be caught if at all possible; and all those convicted should be punished to the full extent of the law. Besides being “right”, it is necessary if we are to achieve a functional democracy.

          Regarding Forgiveness, my observation is more general and defers pretty much to Jesus’s comment along the lines of: let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

          Putting the above into current context: This looting certainly did not occur “randomly”. It is born out of our fraught South African historical context, a context in which no South African is truly blame free.

          My thrust is that , looking forward, our best – and probably only – chance of improving as a country is if we all work together towards a common goal.

          Which, until we all learn to forgive each other the past, will never happen.

          I hope this answers better.

      • Coen Gous says:

        Obviously you do have more than enough food, and luxuries of live. Obviously also not one directly affected by events over the last week. Or for that matter, the last 2 decades. Praise CR as much as you wish, he was the President whom appointed the Ministers of Police and the SSA, and maintain the Commissioner of Police in his position, despite allegations of mal-administration, and firing good cops. You also then support the praises of CR of Zuma. I maintain my position, this all happened under his watch.
        Forgive whom you wish to forgive, but forgiveness will not get this country out of this mess. You believe in fairies, I don’t.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          Wow – is it really that opaque?

          I am saying what I say to my children. Think about your desired outcome and then frame your approach to achieve that outcome. Moaning incessantly certainly won’t achieve a better South Africa, particularly when you’re moaning at the only person who shown any signs of positive leadership in this country in the last 20 years.

          At the risk of restating the obvious, everyone in this country has something they need to forgive against a multitude of perpetrators over many years. Do not for a moment think that you hold the patent on forgiveness. And at a general level you might learn something from psychology textbooks on the power of forgiveness and empathy as it relates to healing.

          If I can offer a suggestion; try turning round and facing forward.

  • Chris Lane says:

    South African politicians are fond of talking about the South African democracy, but we do not have one at all. If we did, there would be accountability and consequences for the corrupt and inept. CR may be a good statesman, but he does not have the desire, power or even the inclination to act in a democratic way. In fact, the demographics of the South African population do not even allow for democracy. Or accountability in the ruling party.

  • Gerhard Pretorius says:

    The admission that the government was unprepared for the events of the past week is an understatement. The entire government can be summarised by the Zulu word “okhozini”. It describes a carcass that is hollow on the inside presumably by hyenas.
    And to make decisions based on the image of a hollowed-out carcass will not take us anywhere.

  • Peter Bartlett says:

    SA will be watching and waiting to see the words and promises from last night translate into action, outcomes and people being held to account.

    To see is to believe; and to believe is to see consequences . . .

  • gordon Blackbeard says:

    I suppose self defence will be an allowable reason in the application of firearm licences again.
    Stop disarming of law abiding citizens.
    It certainly didnt deter criminals having unlicenced weapons

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    My heart goes out to all the honest hard working South Africans who have lost so much now, and let’s be honest, over the last 20 odd years. South Africa in a bad place, no doubt. I just thank the Lord that we have Cyril and his supporters who appear to be making real attempts to get our country back on track, to the benefit of all.

    Is it bad? Of course it is, but it could be Zuma.

  • Derrick Kourie says:

    I disagree with the negative tone of the posts to date. I believe that a (very very costly) inflexion point has been reached. The RET / WMC gang of thugs and their lies have been exposed. They are largely emasculated. This opens up the possibility of various future scenarios. A lot will depend on whether CR will grasp this window of opportunity. He may well follow the “same old same old” policies of the past. If he does, then the generally negative comments will have been justified. But I am cautiously optimistic that he will move more confidently towards the centre. If I read the non-panicked JSE correctly, then investors are of a similar disposition.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      At last! Some vision.

      • Charles Parr says:

        Richard, we’d all love to feel more confident but in order to feel that we need to have more confidence in the people that put their hands up to be elected because they could lead the country. We need to know that the perpetrators have been rounded up and that the threat has largely been neutralised. We need an acknowledgement that there is so much need in this land of plenty and that the leaders will ensure that people that are employed to do jobs do their jobs instead of breaking and stealing everything in sight. I’d love to have confidence in CR but I can’t because he doesn’t convince me that he is a leader. We don’t have time for him to play chess until someone shows a weakness and he can nail them. Let him rather consult with people that have ability to give good advice about the way forward rather than his wannebee street fighters in the ANC. I may be wrong, and I probably am, but I need more than this to convince me that he’s in charge and has some sort of vision for a shared, better future.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          Thanks Charles, in simplistic terms this is how I see it:

          – South Africa has been on a hiding to nothing for at least 20 years, and actually a lot longer if one include the egregious wrong and shortsighted-ness that was apartheid
          – The outcome is of course what South Africans see every day: profitable crime, wanton violence, rife corruption, unemployment and poverty, junk credit status, failing infrastructure, an uneducated voter base, a parliament overflowing with narcissists, many with criminal records and most unable to run a country productively if their lives depended on it, and on and on…

          Obviously, reversing this ongoing spiral of doom makes stopping an oil tanker look like parking a mini. I wouldn’t know where to begin. ( …well truthfully I may have a few ideas 😉 )

          On the up side,for the first time I am seeing signs of hope manifesting in Cyril Ramaphosa and those in the ANC who support him.

          While there are of course many paths we can take to destruction, I believe that at this juncture South Africans have the following broadly sensible choices :

          1. support the hope and provide it the best possible environment in which to flourish; or
          2. identify a pragmatic alternative and do likewise; or
          3. throw in the towel and leave (an option only available to a privileged few)

          As I love my country and am not able to identify a pragmatic alternative, my choice is simple.

          I accept absolutely there are no guarantees.

          • Charles Parr says:

            Thank you. A very thoughtful reply.

          • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

            Thanks Charles, pleased not everyone thinks I’m insane 😄. As an aside, there are so many random things that for me encourage hope in Cyril. Just one example being that Zuma’s daughter apears to subscribe to #ramaphosamustfall

  • Johan Buys says:

    Insurrection is a big and notable word for the leader of a country. A bit like that cousin we don’t talk about – a black mark.

    Insurrection implies intent and collusion.

    So mr President : name the traitors.

  • Logan NAIDU says:

    So the mayhem of the past week was a well-planned and coordinated attack on our democracy. That seems obvious. However, the key question is why the State Security Agency (SSA) and Crime Intelligence (CI) and police seemed so woefully incompetent. There are sinister counter-revolutionary forces within SSA and CI. The SSA was never reformed after the disastrous Zuma presidency – all pro-Zuma elements must be purged and held accountable as co-conspirators. The Ministers must resign.

    We are told 12 conspirators have been identified. Immediate arrests must follow. However, Police Minister Bheki Cele seems incapable of performing his duties. He failed spectacularly to deploy sufficient police personnel at the many hotspots. Was this deliberate? Is he still a Zuma sympathizer? Were it not for the courageous and resilient community forums that protected various areas, the additional mayhem would have been unimaginable.

    It is high time Ramaphosa acts decisively and rids his executive of all pro-Zuma sycophants. He should also issue a directive that no member of national, provincial or local government must fraternize with the convicted criminal Zuma, his twin children, and all other counter-revolutionary forces such as the suspended ANC SG and other nefarious actors. The KZN Premier must be severely reprimanded or dismissed for his on-going sympathies for Zuma. Zuma must be condemned by all ANC structures and leaders for the counter-revolutionary and destabilizing activities.

  • Sandra Goldberg says:

    One of the most important ways for this country to heal, is to witness the instigators be held fully accountable , and be imprisoned without any bail or appeals.They have committed treason.In some of the countries that the ANC favours so much, ie China , they would be put to death. What is so shocking, is the looting of business which wasfollowed by their burning- such wanton self destruction, which has been a feature for so many years. And the whole security cluster , which failed so dismally, for whatever reason, should all be fired.

  • Coen Gous says:

    Richard Harding…apart from insulting everyone not agreeing with you, reality is your opinion is nothing short but supporting a well-organised ANC power-hungry elitist Government. The sooner your party fail, the sooner this country survive. Your comments has been been distasteful and belong in one of your favourite social media outlets

  • David Purchase says:

    I listened to Cyril several times in the early 90’s, at American Chamber of Commerce corporate breakfasts, and it was obvious, even then, that he was a well articulated business man and had his head screwed on right. Today, some say he was equally complicit, as VP, in JZ rape of SA.
    My take on CR is that, whilst under JZ rule, he had to keep to the shadows, bite his tongue, whilst biding his time watching (likely assisting) JZ eventually play himself out of the Presidency. There was no one at that time who could have stood up to JZ. When the time was right, CR made his move and came to power, knowing well that his most dangerous enemy would not be standing in front of him but behind him, in his own party. And so he has had to play his enemies to date and slowly gain strength.

    All the while, he has no doubt known that this past week would come, in one form of another. He has known that Zuma would not have sat idle after being ousted from all power. Well, the time has come and CR has triumphed over the evil and I’m hoping, as we all should be, that this will finally give him the push in political strength, within his own party, to clean up the ANC.
    Make no mistake, CR is a very clever man, a shrewd man, a business man first and foremost. I believe that his heart is in the right place to benefit SA but politics has its own play rules. Besides, there is no-one else in the ANC presently who could remotely be counted upon by the nation to lead us towards light again.

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