Anti-Indian violence was planned, says South Africa President

Pretoria, June 18, 2020 (Xinhua) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 in Pretoria, South Africa, June 17, 2020. The summit, held via video link, was jointly proposed by China, South Africa, the rotating chair of the African Union (AU), and Senegal, the co-chair of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). (South Africa Presidency/Handout via Xinhua/IANS)

Kolkata, July 16 (IANS) The violence and looting against people with Indian origin in South Africa over the past week were planned, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa alleged during his first visit to the worst-affected KwaZulu-Natal province .

As many as 121 people, mostly of Indian origin, have died in the country’s worst post-apartheid era violence in the past week.

“It is quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated… There were people who planned it and coordinated it,” Ramphosa said on Friday.

But he did not specifically blame any party or group, only saying that his government has arrested more than 2,200 troublemakers, including several ‘instigators’.

“We are going after them, we have identified a good number of them, and we will not allow anarchy and mayhem to unfold in our country,” Ramaphosa told mediapersons.

He said that Indian origin people are ‘very important’ to the country, its economy and society.

“They will be defended, they have no reason to worry,” Ramphosa said.

The South Africa government had said on Thursday that one of the suspected instigators had been arrested and 11 were under surveillance. In all, 2,203 people have been arrested during the unrest for various offences, including theft.

Ramaphosa did admit, however, that his government could have acted “quicker” to prevent the unrest and expressed concerns over the growing racial tension in KwaZulu-Natal.

Protests broke out a day after Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma, who wields support among the poor and loyalists in the governing African National Congress (ANC), began a 15-month jail term for refusing to testify to a corruption investigation.

The agitations quickly turned into looting as crowds pillaged shopping malls and warehouses, hauling away goods even as the police stood by, seemingly powerless to act.

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