(Updates death toll, adds quote from government minister)
Johannesburg, Jul 16 (EFE).- The wave of violent riots and mass looting that has hit South Africa in recent days was deliberately instigated, president Cyril Ramaphosa said Friday.
“It is quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated, there were people who planned it and coordinated it,” Ramaphosa said during a visit to a shopping center outside Durban, one of the cities that has been particularly affected by the nationwide unrest.
He said police and intelligence services were beginning to get a fuller picture of what had occurred over the past week, promising that “we will not allow anarchy and mayhem to unfold” in the country.
Ramaphosa admitted that his government should have acted “faster” to quell the vandalism that for six days caused chaos in Africa’s most developed nation.
“Yes, we could have done better, but we were overwhelmed,” admitted the president, who has been criticized for the slow response of the government.
The total death toll from the violence rose to 212 on Friday, while the number of arrests stands at 2,554, the South African government said.
Despite the increase in the number of victims and arrests, the acting Minister of the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, confirmed at a press conference that all the affected areas were “gradually but steadily” returning to normality and that the government considers that the situation has “fully stabilized”.
The wave of incidents began on July 9, initially in the form of protests over the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma (2009-2018) for contempt of court after he repeatedly refused to testify in his corruption trial.
In the following days, the clashes spread to other areas — especially Johannesburg — and escalated into a chaotic wave of mass rioting and looting, with mobs rampaging through shopping malls and stores, burning buildings and vehicles, and cutting off roads and streets.