Cyril Ramaphosa leaves London as protests erupt in South Africa

FILE ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule

Similar protests have been common across South Africa, which the World Bank this year called, by any measure, "one of the most unequal countries in the world". Shops have been looted, roads barricaded and vehicles set alight, a BBC report said.

A statement from his office noted clashes with police and called for engagement "rather than violence and anarchy".

It added that the South African leader had urged security forces to "exercise maximum restraint".

The broadcaster said one person was thought to have died in the demonstrations.

Public healthcare in the province was brought to a grinding halt by the National Health Allied Worker's Union's (Nehawu) almost two-month industrial action, a strike in some parts and a go-slow in others, which left clinics and hospitals in the province without medication or personnel.

The African National Congress (ANC) will examine allegations of corruption and act on all wrongdoings in the North West, National Executive Committee (NEC) member Obed Bapela said on Friday.

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The South African Military Heath Service (SAMHS) have been deployed to the North West to reinforce the medical care capacity at the Provincial Health Hospital.

"To pay attention to the situation in the North West, the President has chose to cut short his participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.", an official statement said.

He was due to address an urgent meeting in Mahikeng at 12pm (1000 GMT) alongside other senior ANC officials.

Zuma's nine-year tenure saddled South Africa with weak growth, ballooning national debt, depressed investor confidence and record unemployment.

Ramaphosa has vowed to crack down on government corruption, which he has admitted is a serious problem, and improve South Africa's ability to attract foreign investment.

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