President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government was poorly prepared for the unrest that rocked parts of the country recently. He was addressing the nation on the riots, which were sparked by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.

President Ramaphosa reiterated that government will bring to account those responsible for the mayhem. “We will spare no effort to bring those responsible to justice. And I repeat, we will spare no effort to bring those responsible to justice.”

He says clean-up operations, often including local people, are now under way at many looted malls and shops in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. “161 malls and shopping centres were attacked during the looting and violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng,” he says.

The president says the attacks were designed to collapse the state and dislodge the government, but have failed because of the resistance of ordinary people and the security forces.

Ramaphosa says it will take time for the country to recover from the destruction caused by the riots that have claimed 212 lives.

He says the unrest has interrupted the country’s vaccination programme in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. “It is clear now that the events of the last week were nothing more than an orchestrated, coordinated, direct attack on our democracy,” says the president.

He says culprits used social media and fake news to stoke racial tensions.

The president says calm is returning to areas rocked by the unrest and government will assist businesses to rebuild.

He says emergency food relief and other assistance will be offered to those who have suffered loss and damage.

“We are in the process of providing immediate food relief to households. We are targeting areas affected by the looting and where people have no access to food. Provincial Departments of Social Development and SASSA will use their remaining budget in the Social Relief of Distress programme to provide support in the form of food parcels, cash and food vouchers. We are working hard to bring all SASSA offices into operation. Cash pay points are expected to resume services from the 19th of July in all the areas that have been declared safe to operate.”

The president says the Solidarity Fund has established a relief fund to assist those in need and has urged South Africans to support it.

“People should follow the example of Madiba this Sunday,” he says.

Ramaphosa cautioned that while calm is returning, those who incited the violence are still out there and urged South Africans to work together to thwart their plans and encourage unity and restraint.

President Ramaphosa addresses the nation on outbreaks of violence: 

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