President Cyril Ramaphosa left a Commonwealth leaders meeting in London to return to South Africa Thursday following clashes between protesters and police in the Northwest Province, his spokesman said.
“To pay attention to the situation in the North West, the president has decided to cut short his participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London,” Khusela Diko said in an emailed statement.
Demonstrators opposed to North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo set fire to buses and looted shops in the provincial capital, Mmabatho, TimesLive reported on Thursday, citing police spokesperson Adele Myburgh. South Africa’s special police unit known as the Hawks said it raided Mahumaphelo’s offices last month in connection with alleged maladministration, fraud and corruption amounting to about 160 million rand ($13 million).
Ramaphosa “called on all aggrieved parties to express their grievances through peaceful means and engagement rather than violence and anarchy,” Diko said. He will meet with provincial leaders of the ruling African National Congress on Friday, the party said in an e-mailed statement.
The South African president has been meeting government officials and investors in London, where he unveiled his plan to attract $100 billion of investment to kick-start the economy. He has been working to convince investors that he’s committed to reversing years of economic stagnation, policy uncertainty and looting of state funds since succeeding Jacob Zuma as president two months ago.