President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that the government was caught sleeping in the wake of violent protests that have engulfed in large parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng (GP).
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the government’s response against the protests on Friday evening.
He said that the government was “not at all prepared” for an orchestrated campaign of public violence, destruction and sabotage of this nature.”
“We must acknowledge that we were poorly prepared,” said Ramaphosa.
“While we commend the brave actions of our security forces on the ground, we must admit that we did not have the capabilities and plans in place to respond swiftly and decisively. Our police were faced with a difficult situation and exercised commendable restraint to prevent any loss of life or further escalation.”
“Once additional security personnel were deployed, they were able to quickly restore calm to most areas that were affected. Once this crisis has passed, we will undertake a thorough and critical review of our preparedness and our response.”
Ramaphosa confirmed that he has since authorised the deployment of 25,000 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to support the work of the police in bringing back the situation to normalcy.
“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.
He said there was no need for the declaration of a state of emergency to contain this violence and destruction.
“Our view has been that a state of emergency should only be declared when all other means of stabilising the situation have shown to be inadequate. A state of emergency would allow a drastic limitation of the basic rights contained in our Constitution, which no responsible government would want to do unless it was absolutely necessary.”
The president said that the deployment of security forces, working together with communities and social partners across the country, will be able to restore order and prevent further violence.