- President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the country following his visit to parts of KwaZulu-Natal that were hit by mass looting.
- He admitted the government was poorly prepared to deal with the wave of violence and unrest, which he labelled a failed insurrection.
- Ramaphosa said the government was aware of who was behind the attacks.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted the government was poorly prepared to deal with the wave of violence and unrest, which he labelled a failed insurrection.
He addressed the country on Friday evening after spending the day in parts of KwaZulu-Natal that were affected by mass looting and severe damage to property.
"As this government, we must acknowledge that we were poorly prepared for an orchestrated campaign of public violence, destruction and sabotage of this nature.
"While we commend the brave actions of our security forces on the ground, we must admit that we did not have the capabilities and plans in place to respond swiftly and decisively.
"Our police were faced with a difficult situation and exercised commendable restraint to prevent any loss of life or further escalation. However, once additional security personnel were deployed, they were able to quickly restore calm to most areas that were affected."
Ramaphosa said the violence, which swept parts of KZN and Gauteng, was a deliberate and co-ordinated attack on South Africa's democracy.
"These actions are intended to cripple the economy, cause social instability and severely weaken - or even dislodge - the democratic state. Using the pretext of a political grievance, those behind these acts have sought to provoke a popular insurrection.
"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."
He added the government was aware and keeping an eye on those believed to have instigated the chaos.
Since the start of the unrest, at least 212 have died, with the majority being in KZN, where 180 were killed.
Ramaphosa said the police were investigating 131 cases of murder and have opened inquest dockets in respect of 81 deaths.
Various people and groups have called for the president to declare a state of emergency, which he felt should be a last resort.
"Our view has been that a state of emergency should only be declared when all other means of stabilising the situation have shown to be inadequate.
"A state of emergency would allow a drastic limitation of the basic rights contained in our Constitution, which no responsible government would want to do unless it was absolutely necessary.
"For now, it is our firm view that the deployment of our security forces, working together with communities and social partners across the country, will be able to restore order and prevent further violence," Ramaphosa said.
Before ending his addresses he sent a message of condolences to the families of prominent figures who died recently, including Michael Zuma, former president Jacob Zuma's younger brother.