South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has joined post-revolt policing efforts as his government has warned against vigilance and sought to avoid racial conflict after days of unrest.
The country has been plagued by more than a week of chaos in which more than 200 people have been killed while looters have looted shopping malls and riots have shattered key industrial infrastructure and blocked trade routes.
The violence has been rampant in post-apartheid South Africa and has erupted after former President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison on July 8 for snubbing a corruption investigation. Protests have spread into complaints about long-standing poverty and inequality.
His trial for corruption in a separate case is set to resume on Monday.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa, who has been criticized for responding to the violence, told a crowd outside a shopping mall in Soweto commune: “We all admit that there have been delays … we will meet and do it. an appropriate review. “
“People want to defend what we have in the form of democracy, our constitution and the economy.”
He also called on the unit: “We will come out after this much, much stronger and much more capable than we were before this incident happened.”
Ramaphosa is under increasing pressure since only one of the suspected leaders of what officials have called an attempted “insurrection,” which caused about $ 1 billion in damage, has been arrested.
When asked if he would excuse his responsible security ministers, he said, “We are reviewing the situation, yes.”
Speaking from Johannesburg, Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller said Ramaphosa had significant criticism for his comments on the riots last week.
“He had said he was ethnically based and now he used his address to say that there was no link to ethnicity and revolts, and that the notion was out the window,” Miller said.
She went on to say that there was a lot of “talk” between the army and the police.
“There were criticisms that there was not enough intelligence transmitted to the police, in particular, to respond adequately to the riots,” Miller said.
“Police said they were overwhelmed and did not have the ability to adequately deal with what was happening.”
Access to basic necessities such as food has become an urgent problem in areas affected by looting, arson and violence as some warehouses have been destroyed while others remain closed.
Many in the most affected KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province are now hungry.
On a branch of the Grace family church in Durban, horse-drawn tables were stacked high with donated fresh vegetables and bread to prepare food parcels for those in need of food.
Meanwhile, police Minister Bheki Cele warned against “surveillance acts” after Phoenix residents outside Durban, a community of South Africans of Indian descent for the most part, were accused of victimizing their black counterparts.
“If we feel that people are being racially profiled in the roadblocks installed in the area … [people] including the police, they are intimidated, raped and in extreme cases people have been beaten, and their cars have been searched and set on fire. [this] it is simply criminal and will not be tolerated, ”he said in a statement late Saturday.
A force group of 10 detectives will be deployed in the area to investigate the deaths of 20 people during the chaos, he added.
Of the 212 people reported killed across the country, some were shot and others died in the stampede.
Alongside the human and economic tragedy, officials have closed several beaches around Durban warning of possible contamination following a chemical spill in a burning factory during the chaos.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa visited the shopping malls of Soweto municipality, the most populated part of Gauteng province – the country’s economic powerhouse – which has also seen riots and looting, to support business owners with efforts to cleaning.
“The direction of the [governing] The African National Congress (ANC) will assess the damage caused by the recent looting and vandalism and to engage communities and various stakeholders in the reconstruction and reconstruction program, ”the party said in a statement.
Sunday marks Mandela’s day, in honor of South Africa’s first democratic president Nelson Mandela, and would be a day of retirement for the ANC under normal circumstances.
Pope Francis prayed for South Africa on Sunday, saying the violence had shaken the country “already hit by health and economic challenges due to the pandemic”.
Many in the industry, particularly tourism which accounts for 7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), are concerned that violence is damaging South Africa’s reputation and restraining economic progress.
The AFP news agency reported that traffic returned to normal on Sunday on a main road linking the north of the country to the port of Durban which had been closed for days.
“As much as we are above the obstacle now, we are still afraid,” Zanele Khomo of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry told AFP.
“The world looks at us with those (negative) eyes, but we want to tell them that South Africa has a lot of good people and we have a lot of good stories to tell,” said Siyanda Nxumalo, a professor in Durban who helped clear the Dube Village Mall out of Durban after the unrest.