In a sign of the confusion within the government over the causes of the violence that killed more than 200 people, caused billions of rand of damage and sullied the country’s reputation, the presidency rebuked the defence minister’s attempt to downplay the planned nature of the attacks.

The looting, which started about a week ago and “almost brought the country to its knees”, was an orchestrated attempt at an insurrection and anything to the contrary was not supported by law enforcement agencies, acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said on Monday...

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