South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said those behind the week-long riots and looting will be brought to justice. Violence and pillaging in South Africa have already claimed the lives of 212 people and the government is struggling to get the situation under control.
Ramaphosa said in a televised address that the country was "poorly prepared" to handle the unrest. He said the government will find the people responsible for instigating the violence.
"Those behind these acts have sought to provoke a popular insurrection amongst our people. We will spare no effort in bringing those individuals to justice," Ramaphosa said.
The nation's minister of small business development and a member of the National Assembly of South Africa, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said investigations into the riots are now at a "very advanced stage." She said that authorities have already arrested one of the instigators and 11 others are now under surveillance.
Since the riots began, retail stores, warehouses, and major shopping malls have been ransacked. Business owners in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg have urged the government to do more to stop the looting, which has stoked fears of possible shortages and an economic meltdown.
Ramaphosa said it would likely take "a few months" before businesses can return to normal operations. He said the destruction and interruptions to the supply chains will take time to recover.
According to government figures, most of the people that had died during the riots were in KwaZulu-Natal. Out of the 212 that had been killed, 180 were from the province. Most had died after they were shot during the riots, while others died during looting stampedes.
According to official figures, more than 2,500 people have been arrested for various offenses. The government was forced to tap into its armed forces reserves to meet its target of deploying more than 25,000 troops to heavily affected areas.
"We are going to make sure that there's nobody who is going to challenge the authority of the state. We will meet force with force," South African defense commander, Rudzani Maphwanya, said.
The riots began after ex-president Jacob Zuma was handed a 15-month jail term for failing to cooperate in his corruption investigation. Zuma portrayed himself as a champion of the poor. He commands support among loyalists in the African National Congress and has thousands of supporters - including those from his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.