President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the recent sporadic but increasingly violent protests in some parts of the country.
“Key infrastructure like national roads have been affected, slowing down the transportation of goods and services that keep our economy running.
“Property has been destroyed. Cars have been stoned. People have been intimidated and threatened, and some have even been hurt.
“These acts are endangering lives and damaging our efforts to rebuild the economy,” the President said on Sunday evening, while updating South Africans on the developments in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the country’s Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to freely express themselves and to engage in peaceful protest.
While there are those who may be hurt and angry at this moment, the President said, there can never be any justification for such violent, destructive and disruptive actions.
He said it is a matter of concern to all South Africans that some of these acts of violence are based on ethnic mobilisation.
“This must be condemned by all South Africans at all costs as we are a nation committed to non-racialism and non-tribalism that is underpinned by the diversity and unity of all the people of South Africa, whatever their language, culture, religious beliefs and race.
“Our commitment to our democratic Constitution is based on the fundamental principle that all people are equal before the law, and that all people have the right to equal protection before the law,” President Ramaphosa said.
He said the rule of law safeguards against the abuse of power, adding that the rule of law protects the poor and the vulnerable.
Since the advent of democracy, institutions like the Constitutional Court have been at the forefront of improving the lives of South Africans.
“Let us be clear, as a nation, that we will not tolerate acts of criminality.”
The President warned that those who are involved in acts of violence will be arrested and prosecuted.
“Those found guilty of breaking the lockdown regulations will receive the stipulated penalty. This will be done without fear or favour.”
The President further condemned attempts to create confusion by sharing false images and videos, often from events that took place many years ago.
“I ask that you think carefully before sharing anything on social media or elsewhere that may not be accurate or verified.”
He said the vast majority of this country’s citizens have shown that they want to live in peace and harmony.
“They want to work and earn a living. They want to see our country recover from this pandemic. We are confronting the COVID-19 pandemic together.
“We are working to rebuild our economy together so that more jobs can be created, so that more businesses can be supported, and so we can put food on the table, send our children to school and support our families,” President Ramaphosa said.