President Cyril Ramaphosa in Ethekhwini, KwaZulu-Natal on Friday. PHOTO: Twitter

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa is currently conducting an oversight visit to violence-torn Ethekwini, KwaZulu-Natal, to assess the impact of recent public riots and the deployment of security forces on the ground.

The president is also interacting with the provincial government and security forces.

“This is what we call community engagement. I am glad that you are now cleaning the area after criminals looted and caused mayhem in our country. We are ready to defend our country and to defend our democracy. Thank you for defending our democracy and our country. We also thank the police and the soldiers who are here to defend our country,” said Ramaphosa made the remarks when he visited Ethekwini Municipality, which includes the port city of Durban, one of the worst-hit areas in a week of looting that destroyed hundreds of businesses and killed more than 100 people.

“We will not allow anyone to destroy our democracy. This is a hard fought for democracy and we will not allow them to mess it up,” he said, adding that 25,000 soldiers would be deployed to flashpoints soon, up from 10,000 troops now.

Ramaphosa is accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, Police Minister Bheki Cele, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

His visit follows the government’s engagement throughout this week with different sectors of society, including organised business, interfaith leaders and leaders of political parties represented in Parliament.

The government said on Thursday the death toll had risen to 91 deaths in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province where his support is greatest, and stood at 26 in Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg, making a total of 117 killed so far.

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