Death toll rises as violence and looting spread to South Africa | News about South Africa
Protesters clashed with security forces in some areas of South Africa and looters destroyed shopping malls on Tuesday as frustrations of poverty and inequality led to the country’s worst riots in years, with the death toll at more than 30.
Many of the deaths occurred in chaotic stamped as many people looted food, electrical appliances, alcoholic beverages and clothing from retail centers, KwaZulu-Natal provincial Prime Minister Sihle Zikalala told the press on Tuesday morning.
“Yesterday’s events brought a lot of sadness. “The number of people who have died in KwaZulu-Natal alone is 26. Many of them died from the violation during a stampede while people were looting items,” Zikalala said.
The bodies of 10 people were found Monday night following a breach at a Soweto shopping mall as looting continued in Gauteng province, Prime Minister David Makhura said on Tuesday.
Security officials said the government was working to ensure that violence and looting did not spread further, but they stopped declaring a state of emergency.
“No amount of dissatisfaction or personal circumstances from our people entitles anyone to rob, vandalize and do as they please and break the law,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told a news conference.
The violence was caused by prison of former president Jacob Zuma as his supporters took to the streets last week, but the situation has evolved into an outpouring of anger over continuing poverty and inequality in South Africa 27 years after the end of apartheid.
The economic effects of COVID-19 restrictions have exacerbated the problems.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced late Monday that he was sending troops to help the overcrowded police stop the riots and “restore order”.
Troops were being relocated to fire stations on Tuesday as the largest police force appeared powerless to prevent attacks and looting of businesses in Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal province and Gauteng province, home to the country’s largest city, Johannesburg. . Convoys of armored personnel carriers rolled across the highways.
Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller reporting from Johannesburg said the looting and riots continued through the night and into the morning.
“The police are trying to manage the situation. “Robbers are trying to break into shops and stores with the surrounding police,” Miller said.
“We are also seeing crowds starting to become hostile to the police and throwing stones at them. “Police are using rubber bullets and tear gas to test and disperse them.”
We are watching the robberies continue in Alexandra in Johannesburg. Police have now moved away from this specific road and the crowd has grown. Earlier police opened fire with rubber bullets and people responded by throwing stones. Some buildings have been burned @AJEnglisht #South Africa pic.twitter.com/4h9Kay9YTP
– Fahmida Miller (@FahmidaMiller) July 13, 2021
Shops, gas stations and government buildings have been forced to close. The robbers took items ranging from beer and food to household appliances, showed footage, and at least one mall was completely ransacked.
In some areas of the coastal city of Durban where shops were being looted, there was no police visibility, Reuters news agency reported. At a mall in Johannesburg’s Soweto town, police and the army were patrolling as shop owners assessed the damage.
Cele said 757 people had been arrested so far. He said the government would act to prevent further spread of violence and warned that people would not be allowed to “mock our democratic state”.
Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, speaking at the same press conference, said she did not think a state of emergency had yet to be declared.
Zuma, 79, was convicted last month of challenging a constitutional court order to provide evidence in an investigation investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in office until 2018.
The decision to imprison him resulted from legal proceedings seen as a test of South Africa’s post-apartheid ability to enforce the rule of law, including against powerful politicians.
But any confrontation with the soldiers risks prompting accusations from Zuma and his supporters that they are victims of a politically motivated coup by his successor, Ramaphosa.
The violence escalated as Zuma challenged his 15-month prison term in South Africa’s highest court on Monday. The trial was adjourned until an unspecified date.
But the deteriorating situation showed wider problems and unfulfilled expectations that followed the end of white minority rule in 1994 and the election of Nelson Mandela in South Africa’s first free and democratic vote.
The economy is struggling to recover from the damage caused by Africa’s worst COVID-19 epidemic, forcing it to constantly impose restrictions on businesses that have damaged an already fragile recovery.
The crisis may have widened the gap between assets and non-assets. Rising unemployment has left people increasingly desperate. Unemployment was at a new record high of 32.6 percent in the first three months of 2021.
But in a speech Monday night, Ramaphosa said: “What we are seeing now are opportunistic acts of crime, with groups of people inciting chaos simply as a cover for robbery and theft.”