Plainclothes SAPS members patrol Alexandra township on September 2. File Picture: AFP
Plainclothes SAPS members patrol Alexandra township on September 2. File Picture: AFP

President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the resurgence of public violence that claimed two lives in Johannesburg on Sunday, saying that lawlessness was a crime against SA's prosperity and stability.

Since violence erupted in Johannesburg last week and spread to different parts of Gauteng, more than 600 people have been arrested, and 10 have died — eight victims were South African and two were foreign, police minister Bheki Cele said on Monday.

The simmering xenophobic violence led to an imbizo planned with the leaders of the different hostels in the affected areas on Sunday, but that did not take place.

Ramaphosa expressed his condolences to the families of the two people who were killed.

“The president has called on law enforcement agencies to maintain vigilance and firmness in dealing with individuals or groups who take the law into their own hands and violate the dignity rights of people without raising grievances with the relevant authorities,” the presidency said.

Ramaphosa applauded law enforcement agencies for arresting at least 16 people on Sunday to bring calm and order to Johannesburg.

“Government will not allow sporadic lawlessness and violence to disrupt the safety and livelihoods of millions of South Africans and the majority of foreign nationals in our country who are law-abiding and have the right to conduct their lives and businesses in peace,” Ramaphosa said.

He said that lawlessness, injury and death inflict a “great psychological and economic cost that lasts long after victims are buried, arrests are made and streets are cleared”. 

“This cost holds back our country and undermines all the efforts we are making to grow a SA that offers opportunity to all who live in it .... Those who want to upset our public order must expect to face the gravest impact of the law.”