Jean-Jacques Cornish

President Cyril Ramaphosa says looters will face the full might of the law

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 30 minute speech to South Africans was made with against the backdrop of the continued looting of a shopping mall in Durban.

He says he speaks with an heavy heart having observed acts of violence rarely seen in the nation’s history.

“There has been property vandalized and destroyed,shops looted, people threatened and intimidated,” he says “Workers are scared they may not be able to return to their jobs. People have died. Families are in deep mourning.“We have seen public violence,  destruction of property and looting of a kind rarely seen in our democracy.”

Ramaphosa says there have been 166 arrests in Kwazulu/Natal and320 in Gauteng.“Many have sought to agitate along ethnic lines.They have used the chaos as a cover for looting and theft,” he says

“No grievance can justify this.”South Africans have historically fought for and laid down their lives for free expression and for the protection of the poor and vulnerable, he says“They have fought for a society to develop the interests of all the people of South Africa .cross head

.Nothing can justify the .poor and marginalized bearing brunt of destruction.“We cannot tolerate a situation where the sick cannot get medication, there is no food on the shelves and health workers cannot do their jobs.“We face food and education insecurity and a disruption of our vaccination programme in the middle of a pandemic.“This is not who we are. This is not us.“This is why I have mobilized all available resources to restore order.“As commander in chief of the national defence force I have authorized defence personnel to support the police service in restoring order.“We will will take action to protect the people against violence, theft and looting.“We will arrest and prosecute those who perpetrate these and ensure they face the full might of the law.”Ramaphosa says he’ll meet with community leaders and leaders of political parties to benefit from their wisdom and restore stability in South Africa.What began as “an expression of righteous anger” at  the jailing of ex-President Jacob Zuma last Wednesday has become an anarchic orgy of looting.Police are reduced to playing spectators to the thousands of looters so troops have been deployed on the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial capital, and the KwaZulu/Natal cities of Durban and Pietermartizburg.They too have not stopped the lawlessness.cross head Retail operations paralyzed The nation’s commercial operation which centre largely on giant shopping malls is paralyzed.Deliveries have stopped as trucks have been set alight and used to block inter-city highways.Four dozen of the giant vehicles have been destroyed in this way since last Thursday.The malls closed early in the afternoon as the looters stormed in.Television stations filmed the giant Jabulani Mall in Soweto and the prestigious Maponya Mall being overrun as looters emerged carrying expensive electronic goodsViewers watched as looters moved previously stolen goods from the boots of their vehicles to  make room for the giant television screens.Some of the stores in both Gauteng and KwaZylu/Natal were torched after being looted.A social media wag noted that Ramaphosa was guaranteed a good audience when  he spoke  “because everyone now has a television.”Ramaphosa, who has condemned what he calls “ethnic mobilization” issued a statement hours before his broadcast warning people of the consequences of being caught in possession of looted goods.Under-equipped police, who say they have run out of teargas and other equipment to enforce public order, maintain they were fired on by looters.cross head Fears of vigilantismSome business owners have armed themselves to protect their property giving rise to fears of vigilantismSix deaths of looters have been reported.

The anarchy occurred as Zuma sought to have the Constitutional Court rescind its ruling late last month to sentencing him to 15 months imprisonment for contempt of court. Zuma failed to obey a court order to appear before a commission into state corruption presided over by deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.The full bench of the apex court has reserved judgment in the matter

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.