Cyril Ramaphosa admits he bottled in his reaction to looting

Cyril Ramaphosa

Durban – After visiting a looting site at KwaMashu township in Durban, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government regretted that the situation spiralled out of control and admitted that “we could have done better”.

He made these remarks outside Bridge City Mall in KwaMashu in the north of Durban on Friday morning. In tow, among others, was Police Minister Bheki Cele and KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala.

His visit to the ravaged township was monitored by heavy security in the form of the army, SAPS and Durban metro police.

Grilled by the media upon arrival, Ramaphosa said they were hot on the heels of several suspects they believe are behind the looting and the violence.

He admitted that the security forces were overwhelmed by the crisis, resulting in so much damage being done in the past five days of looting, violence and the resultant vigilantism.

“Yes, security forces tried their best they could, we are talking to our officers here, our provincial (police) commissioner, our minister and others. Yes we could have done better but we were overwhelmed by the situation,” he said.

Ramaphosa backtracked from his comments on Sunday that the situation was about “ethnic mobilisation” which earned him an avalanche of criticism.

“Right now we are dealing with a situation that goes beyond ethnic mobilisation, but we are also concerned about the racial aspect of it because it is beginning to flare up where one community is pitted against another. Now, that is one of the things that we got to deal with” he said.

Towards the end of his media address, Ramaphosa praised jailed former president Jacob Zuma for handing himself to authorities to start serving his 15 months jail sentence, saying it was a commendable decision.

“We are looking at a variety of measures where the courts made a ruling and president Jacob Zuma must be credited for having complied with what the court did rule and he has to be applauded for that.

“We are giving considerations to all the issues and the proposals that are being put forward to us. Until then, let us leave the matter where it is,” he said.

Zuma is currently jailed at Estcourt Correctional Centre in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

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