0318 GMT August 04, 2021
"It is quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated, there were people who planned it and coordinated it," he said as he arrived in KwaZulu-Natal Province, the epicentre of the unrest, AFP reported.
"We are going after them, we have identified a good number of them, and we will not allow anarchy and mayhem to just unfold in our country," Ramaphosa told reporters.
The government said on Thursday that one of the suspected instigators had been arrested and 11 were under surveillance.
Protests broke out a day after ex-president Jacob Zuma – who wields support among the poor and among loyalists in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) – began a 15-month jail term for refusing to testify to a corruption investigation.
The protests quickly turned into looting as crowds pillaged shopping malls and warehouses, hauling away goods as police stood by, seemingly powerless to act.
South Africa has begun deploying more than 20,000 troops to assist police in quelling the week-long unrest, as the death toll soared to 117 people in the rioting and looting, authorities said on Thursday.
In one of the largest deployments of soldiers since the end of white minority rule in 1994, the government said 10,000 soldiers were on the streets by Thursday morning and the South African National Defence Force has also called up all of its reserve force of 12,000 troops, Al Jazeera reported.
In a show of force, a convoy of more than a dozen armoured personnel carriers brought soldiers on Thursday into Gauteng Province, South Africa’s most populous, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the executive capital, Pretoria.
Buses, trucks, aeroplanes and helicopters were also being used to move the large deployment of troops to trouble spots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal Province that have seen a week of violence in mainly poor areas.
More than 2,200 people have been arrested, the acting minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, told a news conference, adding that Johannesburg was now “relatively calm”.
But in KwaZulu-Natal province, the minister said the “situation remains volatile, but much improved and moving towards stability”.
About 100 acts of violence had been recorded on Wednesday, but fewer than three dozen on Thursday, she said.