The violence that has rocked South Africa for the past week was planned, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday as authorities said they had identified 12 suspects.
“It is quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated, there were people who planned it and coordinated it,” he said as he arrived in KwaZulu-Natal province, the epicentre of the unrest.
“We are going after them, we have identified a good number of them, and we will not allow anarchy and mayhem to just unfold in our country,” Ramaphosa told reporters.
The government said on Thursday that one of the suspected instigators had been arrested and 11 were under surveillance.
Protests broke out a day after ex-President Jacob Zuma — who wields support among the poor and among loyalists in the ruling African National Congress — began a 15-month jail term for refusing to testify to a corruption investigation.
The protests quickly turned into looting as crowds pillaged shopping malls and warehouses, hauling away goods as police stood by, seemingly powerless to act.