#UnrestSA: Racism fuelled some incidents of unrest and violence - Ramaphosa

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  • Racism was at the root of some incidents of violence during the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, the president said.
  • A peace committee has since been established in Phoenix and surrounding areas.
  • Investigations are under way into the circumstances that led to the violence.


The government still needs to "unearth" more about the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, President Cyril Ramaphosa says.

"The proliferation of fake news, doctored images and incorrect information has made it difficult to separate fact from fiction," Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.

However, it was clear that racism fuelled some of the altercations during the unrest, the president said.

Ramaphosa said:

But we do know from official reports and personal accounts that people were racially profiled at illegal roadblocks, some people were pulled out of cars and beaten, and some were humiliated and degraded. Several people were killed.

This was most evident in "the tragic events" in Phoenix, Durban.

"During some of the worst unrest in our democracy, and in a climate already thick with suspicion and paranoia, people that had lived side-by-side in relative peace turned on each other," he said.

'Stoked by anonymous people'

Law enforcement agencies were investigating "all acts of criminality", the president said.

"A team of detectives has been assigned to deal with the murders and are working closely with local communities. There have been arrests and those responsible will face the full might of the law," Ramaphosa stressed.

Ramaphosa said:

Much of the narrative around the events in Phoenix has been dominated by attempts to turn one race against another. It has been stoked by anonymous people on social media and in messaging groups making outrageous claims and calling for revenge.

A peace forum has since been established by the South African Police Service (SAPS), in partnership with community leaders in Phoenix, Bhambayi, Zwelitsha and Amaoti.

However, efforts to build integrated communities are being frustrated by persistent inequality and apartheid planning, with many areas divided by race and class, Ramaphosa said.

He said:

At the same time, we need to confront racism in our society. We need to have honest conversations not only about our attitudes to one another, but also about the material conditions that divide us.

"The events in Phoenix are a painful reminder of how much work we still need to do to build inclusive communities that have successfully broken down the boundaries of the past. These events also demonstrate how determined some people are to divide us, and how we need to do everything we can to resist them," the president added.

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