“All of these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated. There were people, who instigated it. Police have a line of sight of what was happening. We are after those people. We have identified some of them,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.
However, he admitted that “we don’t know what their full intentions are”.
Ramaphosa landed on Friday morning in Durban, which has been ravaged by violent protests, vandalism and looting this week. However, he will not be visiting areas, such as the suburb of Phoenix, and the provincial capital, Pietermaritzburg, that have been most affected.
Ramaphosa conceded that government and security agencies could have done better.
“We were overwhelmed by the situation … we did not want to get in a situation that could have resulted in more mayhem.”
He applauded ordinary citizens for defending the assault on the country’s democracy.
“Ordinary citizens have felt they need to defend their areas and their assets. And we welcome that ordinary citizens are working with police to defend [not just] their own assets but our democracy. This is an assault on our democracy. The instigators want to spread instability.”
Ramaphosa said he did not regret initially linking ethnic mobilisation to the unrest, because communication, including voicemails, showed that the “instigators” had been using ethnic terms to mobilise.
“It is not about ethnic mobilisation. It’s about many causes and we will talk about that later,” he said.