President Cyril Ramaphosa said a report into the looting during the July unrests last year found governments response was inadequate.
Ramaphpsa was delivery the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday.
The president appointed an expert panel to investigate the events that lead to the criminal wave of looting and destruction in those two provinces last year.
The July anarchy swept through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, leaving more than 300 people dead.
Ramaphosa said the report paints a deeply disturbing picture of the capabilities of the country’s security services and the structures that exist to coordinate their work.
“The report concludes government’s initial handling of the July 2021 events was inept, police operational planning was poor, poor coordination between the state security & intelligence services, and police not always embedded in the communities they serve.”
The president said the expert panel concluded that if the violence has exposed anything it was the poverty and inequality that is the root cause of the desperation of the people of South Africa.
“The expert panel found that Cabinet must take overall responsibility for the events of July 2021. This is a responsibility that we acknowledge and accept.”
Ramaphosa said government has established specialise multi-disciplinary units to address economic sabotage, extortion at construction sites and vandalism of infrastructure.