Ramaphosa pleads for calm after days of violence inflamed by 'fake news'

05 September 2019 - 19:32
By Qaanitah Hunter
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made an impassioned plea for calm after days of xenophobic violence and looting in the country.

While he condemned the violence, the president warned against misinformation that was sowing further conflict.

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Speaking in a televised address to the nation on Thursday evening, Ramaphosa said there could be no excuse for xenophobia and equally no justification for the looting and destruction of businesses owned by South Africans.

"We know that at least 10 people have been killed in this violence, two of whom were foreign nationals. No amount of anger and frustration and grievance can justify such acts of destruction and criminality," Ramaphosa said.

He said law enforcement was ready to deal with those who were responsible.

"Since Sunday, 423 people have been arrested for violence-related offences in Gauteng and 21 suspects have been arrested in relation to truck violence in KwaZulu-Natal," Ramaphosa said.

While condemning the violence, Ramaphosa also called for people to desist from fueling a climate of fear and confusion.

"We must act responsibly and stop disseminating fake videos, photographs and messages, especially on social media, with an intention of negatively portraying our country and its people," he said.

Over the last week, false reports of attacks and killings went viral while fake pictures purporting to be of attacks on migrants were circulated.

"This misinformation is also being disseminated in neighbouring countries and throughout the world, causing panic and putting lives in danger," Ramaphosa said.

He added: "Let us not be provoked by those who want to sow mistrust and fuel conflict."

Ramaphosa ended his address by calling for countrywide prayers and contemplation this weekend.

"In all churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, let us humble ourselves and bring healing to our nation," he said.