South African President Cyril Ramaphosa joined the cleanup after the riots as his government warned against vigilance and tried to avoid ethnic conflict after several days of turmoil.
The country was plunged into chaos for more than a week. Robbers ransacked shopping centers, rioters burned critical industrial infrastructure and blocked trade routes, killing more than 200 people.
The violence is the worst violence in South Africa after apartheid. It was triggered after former President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison on July 8 for neglecting a corruption investigation. The protests expanded into dissatisfaction with chronic poverty and inequality.
His corruption trial in another case is scheduled to resume on Monday.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa, who has been criticized for his response to the violence, told a crowd outside a shopping mall in Soweto Town: “We all admit that there were mistakes…we will unite and conduct appropriate reviews.”
“People want to defend everything we have in the form of democracy, constitution and economy.”
He also called for unity: “We must become stronger and more capable after experiencing this incident than before this incident.”
Ramaphosa is under increasing pressure because only one leader who was suspected of participating in what the officials said was an attempted “rebellion” was arrested, causing an estimated $1 billion in damage.
When asked if he would change the minister responsible for security, he said: “We are reviewing the situation, yes.”
Al Jazeera’s Fahmeda Miller spoke in Johannesburg, saying that Ramaphosa faced major criticism for his comments on the riots last week.
Miller said: “He once said it was based on race, and today he used his address to say that it has nothing to do with race and riots, and this idea is outdated.”
She went on to say that there are many “pointing points” between the military and police.
Miller said: “Some people have criticized that there is not enough intelligence to pass to the police, especially to adequately respond to the riots.”
“The police said they were at a loss and were unable to adequately deal with what happened.”
‘Righteous police behavior’
In areas affected by robbery, arson and violence, access to basic necessities such as food has become an urgent issue, as many shops have been destroyed while others remain closed.
Many people in the worst-hit KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province are now starving.
In a branch of the Durban Grace Family Church, raised tables are piled with donated fresh vegetables and bread to prepare food packages for those in need.
At the same time, police minister Bheki Cele warned against “self-defense actions” after residents of Phoenix outside Durban (mainly South Africans of Indian origin) were accused of harming their black counterparts.
“If we heard that people were racially discriminated against on the roadblocks in the area… [people] Including the police, they were intimidated and violated. In extreme cases, people were beaten and their cars were searched and burned. [this] It is a crime and will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement late Saturday.
He added that a task force of 10 detectives will be deployed to the area to investigate the deaths of 20 people during the chaos.
According to reports, a total of 212 people were killed across the country. Some of them were shot and others were killed by trampling and robbery.
In addition to personnel and economic losses, officials also closed several beaches around Durban to warn of chemical spills in factories that may have chemical spills during the chaos.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa visited the most populous town of Soweto in Gauteng, the country’s economic powerhouse, where riots and robberies also occurred to support business owners in their cleanup efforts.
“Leadership [governing] The African National Congress (ANC) will assess the damage caused by recent robberies and vandalism and involve communities and various stakeholders in reconstruction and reconstruction plans,” the party said in a statement.
Sunday is Mandela Day to commemorate Nelson Mandela, the first democratic South African president. Normally, it will be a day for the African National Congress to celebrate.
Pope Francis prayed for South Africa on Sunday, saying that the violence had shaken the country and that “the country has been hit by health and economic challenges due to the pandemic”.
Many people in the industry, especially the tourism industry, which accounts for 7% of gross domestic product (GDP), worry that violence will damage South Africa’s reputation and hinder economic development.
Agence France-Presse reported that on Sunday, traffic along a major road connecting the northern part of the country and the port of Durban returned to normal, which has been closed for several days.
Zanele Khomo of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry told AFP: “Even though we have now crossed the barrier, we still feel scared.”
“The world is looking at us with those (negative) eyes, but we want to tell them that there are many good people in South Africa and we have many good stories to tell,” said Siyanda Nxumalo, the principal of Durban. , He helped clean up the Dube Village shopping center outside Durban after the riots.