DA leader Mmusi Maimane has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to “come out of hiding and break his silence on the unfolding social and economic crises”.

Maimane's call follows days of civil unrest in Gauteng, which has seen residents looting foreign-owned businesses in Tembisa, Alexandra, Hillbrow, Cleveland, Jeppestown and the Johannesburg CBD.

The violence continued on Tuesday, spreading to other areas including Germiston on the East Rand

“It is common cause that a significant contributor to our social ills is SA's collapsing economy,” Maimane said at a briefing in Johannesburg.

“Protests, violence and looting are often caused, and exacerbated, by vast inequality, joblessness and economic exclusion faced by millions across our country. With over 10-million South Africans unemployed and half the nation living below the poverty line, we have run out of ‘extra time’. It’s now or never.”

Maimane's comments also followed the high-profile murders of young women over the past few days. Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old University of Cape Town student was raped and murdered allegedly by an employee of the SA Post Office, while young boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, was allegedly murdered by her estranged police officer boyfriend.

Maimane said Ramaphosa was elected to lead, and “each day he remains silent, the situation deteriorates even further”. 

The DA leader called on the president to oversee the accelerated operation of the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure in every area affected by protests and lawlessness. He also called on him to urgently deploy public order policing to all volatile areas within Gauteng and its surrounds.

Maimane also asked that Ramaphosa appear before parliament to make an urgent statement about what is being done to renew the social contract between the state and citizens, “given the complete breakdown in trust and social order”. He further called on the president to cut VIP protection spending for politicians and to divert the budget to capacitate law enforcement.

Maimane said he would also be seeking an urgent update from National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise on what progress, if any, has been made in implementing the findings of parliament’s ad hoc joint committee on probing violence against foreign nationals.