President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday declared that the insurrection had failed.
He said the security forces had defended democracy.
“The insurrection has failed,” Ramaphosa said, adding: “South Africans have rejected it”.
He made his remarks after he visited KwaZulu-Natal, where the unrest has been the worst.
The president said the violence was a “deliberate, coordinated, and well-planned attack on our democracy”.
The unrest began a week ago with the #FreeZuma campaign.
He said 212 people have lost their lives. As many as 198 died in KwaZulu-Natal.
Police have arrested more than 2 500 suspects for public violence and looting.
Ramaphosa said police were hot the trail of those who instigated the violence and looting.
The president said the violence and thuggery were instigated and planned. Police have a line of sight.
“We know who they are… my instructions to the police are very clear … they will be arrested,” assured the president.
Police have confirmed that one of the 12 suspected instigators has already been arrested. Ramaphosa said more arrests were imminent.
The president said those who lit the fire and those who spread it will be dealt with.
Ramaphosa had earlier undertaken an oversight visit to Ethekwini, KwaZulu-Natal, to assess the impact of recent public violence and the deployment of security forces. He said the destruction was massive and would take some time to repair.
“Buildings and streets bear the scares of mayhem,” said the president.
As many as 161 malls and shopping centres,11 warehouses and 161 liquor outlets were looted and vandalised.
He said 25 000 soldiers were being deployed to stabilise areas where there was unrest.
The president admitted the unrest took the authorities by surprise. But he said the country had since been secured.
He, however, said the “threat to our democracy” remains. Ramaphosa urged citizens to be vigilant and inform authorities of any flare-ups of unrest and looting.