South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday issued a four-point action plan his administration will prioritize to steer the country out of the depth of destruction caused by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.
The 79-year-old handed himself to authorities on July 8 to begin a 15-month sentence. He was sentenced for contempt of court, after failing to attend an inquiry into corruption during his presidency.
The jailing sparked violent protests and a looting spree in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Provinces as police struggled to contain the rowdy rioters.
The death toll surrounding riots and unrest in the country has topped 210, with reports indicating that an estimated $1 billion worth of goods had been looted from KwaZulu-Natal, a municipality that includes the city of Durban.
President Ramaphosa announced his four-point action plan on Tuesday, which encompass: restoring and maintaining stability; securing essential supplies; providing relief and commencing rebuilding; and accelerating inclusive economic recovery.
“We need to acknowledge the impact of state capture and that the hollowing out of institutions had a direct impact on the capabilities of the state. We have made important progress in taking corrective measures, but there is much more work to be done,” he said.
The president also acknowledged that the government was “not sufficiently prepared for violence, destruction and looting on this scale, and that the response of our security forces should have been quicker.”
He noted that the chaos witnessed in the country pointed to deeper underlying issues affecting citizens.
“The violence and destruction of the last two weeks has provided the starkest reminder of what is at stake. It has exposed several of the social and economic faultlines in our society and underlined the urgent need to decisively address poverty, inequality and unemployment,” he said.
Following the mass looting, South African police embarked on a search and recovery mission and have found some of the stolen goods, including electronics and furniture.
More than 3,000 people have been arrested on various charges since the chaos erupted more than a week ago.
Some of the suspects were arraigned in court on Tuesday while others are expected to be arraigned in the course of the week.