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WATCH | 'July unrest was humiliating,' Ramaphosa tells SAHRC

President Cyril Ramaphosa told the SA Human Rights Commission that scenes of looting were humiliating for the government and citizens.

01 April 2022 - 18:33 By Maryam Adams
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the SAHRC hearing into the July 2021 unrest, on 01 April 2022, in Sandton, Johannesburg. The president was there to give testimony with regards to his responsibility as head of state. Picture: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times
President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at the SAHRC hearing into the July 2021 unrest, on 01 April 2022, in Sandton, Johannesburg. The president was there to give testimony with regards to his responsibility as head of state. Picture: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times
Image: Alaister Russell

While testifying before the SA Human Rights Commission, President Cyril Ramaphosa reflected on the deeply humiliating nature of the July 2021 unrest, which resulted in the loss of 337 lives and widespread looting and violence in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Ramaphosa is adamant the unrest was an attempted insurrection targeting the country's economic infrastructure. He said the instigators of the attack were exploiting the vulnerability of ordinary people.

“They [ordinary people] participate in their own humiliation because they cannot help it, because they are caught up in this maelstrom of poverty and inequality,” he said.

“I found it humiliating that SA, that is characterised as a middle-income country, could be subjected to the type of unrest where poor people were thrown into the stores looking for food, looking for whatever goods they could get.

“How do I hold my head up as the head of state of SA when we’ve just been through an event like this”.

The commission has been holding hearings into the unrest since last year. It has heard testimony from senior police officers and members of the defence force.

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