South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa says an expanded deployment of the military “was being addressed” after days of looting and violence.

According to the presidency, he made the comments during a meeting with the leaders of political parties represented in parliament about the unrest that has killed at least 72 people.

They were also briefed by the defence minister and army chief about Monday’s deployment of soldiers to stop looting at key commercial centres in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

Mr Ramaphosa has been accused of being too slow to send in the soldiers – and only 2,500 of them compared with the 70,000 he deployed to enforce a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 last year.

The violence was sparked by the jailing last week of his predecessor ex-President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court.

“Leaders of political parties characterised the situation in the country as an attack on the democratic order,” the statement said, adding that in the long- term, “deep levels of unemployment and poverty” needed to be tackled.

But first, calm needed to be restored, transport routes secured and the 21:00-04:00 curfew strictly enforced, they said.