He said those who planned the unrest used a political grievance and sought to provoke a popular insurrection and use the social and economic conditions under which many South Africans lived to provoke ordinary citizens and criminal networks to engage in looting.
“The ensuing chaos is used as a smokescreen to carry out economic sabotage through targeted attacks on trucks, factories, warehouses and other infrastructure necessary for the functioning of our economy and the provision of services to our people.
“Through social media, through fake news and misinformation, they have sought to inflame racial tensions and violence. Worst of all, they have sought to manipulate the poor and vulnerable for their own benefit,” said Ramaphosa.
But he emphasised that the attempts to cause widespread destruction in the country had failed to gain popular support.
“It has failed because of the efforts of our security forces, and it has failed because South Africans have rejected it and have stood up in defence of our hard-won democracy. I saw that determination in action today as I walked through the streets of eThekwini.
“I saw people cleaning up the streets, rebuilding their lives, standing together united in their diversity — young and old, men and women, black and white. They were grateful for the support of the security forces and made it clear to me that they stand united and will work with government to restore stability,” he said.
Ramaphosa confirmed that 212 people have died in the violence. He said police were investigating 131 cases of murder and had opened 81 inquest dockets relating to other deaths.