‘No grievance, political cause can justify violence’: Ramaphosa on riots

President Cyril Ramaphosa sought to associate the struggles of disenfranchised South Africans with the disturbing events.

A police officer watches firefighters extinguish a building following riots in Alexandra on 12 July 2021. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa said there may have been a political purpose behind this week’s lawlessness in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng.

However, this is just one of the many motivations behind the violence that the president had to share with South Africans during Monday night’s address.

Just like many commentators and thought leaders in the country, the president appeared to also lack clarity on what has been at the root of the anarchy.

Where is the intelligence? A question posed by South Africans at the first sign of trouble. And again, as groups of people looted stores, torched trucks and properties - the question resurfaced.

But if the president’s address on Monday night is any indication, the country’s spooks are no more clearer about the reasons behind the riots, which were sparked by people who purported to call for former President Jacob Zuma’s release from prison.

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“What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft. There is no grievance, nor any political cause, that can justify the violence and destruction that we have seen in parts of Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng.” Ramaphosa said.

Then the president sought to associate the struggles of disenfranchised South Africans with the disturbing events.

“This moment has thrown into stark relief what we already knew: that the level of unemployment, poverty and inequality in our society is unsustainable,” he added.

The president also said the violence could have its roots in expressions by individuals with a political purpose and in expressions of frustration and anger.

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