Mzansi backs Ramaphosa in his darkest hour

Andile Sicetsha - 17.07.2021

Ramaphosa cautiously termed the shutdown riots “insurrection attempts to attack our hard-won democracy.”

Cyril Ramaphosa has come out of one of the darkest weeks in South Africa’s history as a beacon of hope to many who rallied behind the president in his visit to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) on Friday.

Cyril Ramaphosa in KZN: ‘The riots were instigated’

Friday marked a week since the start of the shutdown riots that were, for the most part, fuelled by the conviction of former president Jacob Zuma.

Heeding the people’s call for leadership, Ramaphosa flew to eThekwini for an oversight visit, accompanied by Police Minister Bheki Cele, his State Security and Defence counterparts Ayanda Dlodlo and Nosiziwe Mapisa-Nqakula, as well as KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala.

Addressing the media, the president made it clear that the violence we witnessed in KZN and Gauteng was no random act of frustration towards the perceived injustices suffered by Zuma.

“There were people who planned this and coordinated it. Our intelligence services and our police have now got a line of sight of what actually was happening here. We are after those people, we are going after them,” he said.

While he didn’t directly reference the citizen clashes that rocked Phoenix, Ramaphosa did acknowledge the unprecedented display of resilience taken up by ordinary South Africans who were brave enough to stand tall against threats of violence and worked with law enforcement to protect their communities.

“We welcome the fact that ordinary citizens are working together with the security forces, standing up not only to defend their own assets, but also defending our democracy because they can see that this is an assault,” he said.

Social media bands behind Ramaphosa

In his national address, Ramaphosa reiterated his sentiments that the shutdown riots were insurrection attempts led by forces with the objective to attack “our hard-won democracy.”

“Using the pretext of a political grievance, those behind these acts have sought to provoke a popular insurrection. They have sought to exploit the social and economic conditions under which many South Africans live – conditions that have worsened since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic – and to provoke ordinary citizens and criminal networks to engage in opportunistic acts of looting,” Ramaphosa revealed.

Moreover, from what’s been tallied thus far, the president confirmed that 118 incidents of public violence resulted in 212 casualties recorded between KZN (180) and Gauteng.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) also confirmed that:

  • extensive damage has been caused to 161 malls and shopping centres;
  • 11 warehouses;
  • eight factories; and
  • 161 liquor outlets and distributors.

“To stabilise the country, we have massively increased the numbers of law enforcement and security personnel on the ground in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. I have authorised the deployment of 25 000 members of the South African National Defence Force 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.

The true extent of the damage has yet to be computed and tallied up in cost. However, earlier this week, Premier Zikalala did reveal that infrastructure damage in KZN alone, could run into the billions.

The overall sentiment towards Ramaphosa has since shifted on social media, with more voices coming forward to cheer the president. Here are some of the reactions we picked from the trending ‘CR22’ hashtag.