The death toll rises amid looting

The death toll rises amid looting

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At least 30 people have now died in violence that has engulfed parts of South Africa since former President Jacob Zuma surrendered to police last week.

Nearly 800 people have been arrested in the riots that began as protests behind Zuma jail on Thursday.

But the protests turned violent over the weekend, with fires set, highways blocked and businesses looted.

The army is now deployed to assist the deployed police.

Police Minister Bheki Cele told reporters Tuesday that if the looting continued, there was a risk that the areas would run out of basic food.

However, Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said there was still no need to declare a state of emergency over the violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

KwaZulu-Natal Prime Minister Sihle Zikalala said about 26 people had been killed so far in the province, including a 15-year-old boy, EWN reports. Six deaths have been confirmed in Gauteng, says the AFP news agency.

Officials have accused some groups of taking advantage of anger over Zuma’s imprisonment for committing criminal acts, while others have said anger over unemployment and poverty is fueling chaos.

People are being investigated for inciting violence

But Mr Cele warned that “no amount of dissatisfaction or personal circumstances from our people gives anyone the right to rob, vandalize and do as they please and break the law”.

He also revealed that they were investigating 12 people for inciting violence.

There has been a concern about fake online news sparking riots as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) had already revealed it was looking at tweets sent by Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla.

“She will have to respond and explain what her tweets mean and where they will lead,” said Jesse Duarte, the party’s deputy secretary general. according to the Daily Maverick of South Africa.

Zuma was convicted of contempt of court last month after failing to participate in a corruption probe during his presidency.

The 79-year-old, who denies corruption, was given a 15-month prison sentence. He turned himself in to police late Wednesday.

He is hoping to overturn or reduce the sentence by the country’s Constitutional Court. However, legal experts say his chances of success are slim.

Analysis: What is behind the riots?

By Farouk Chothia, BBC News

The catalyst was Zuma’s arrest last week, with his supporters blocking the nation’s main roads – the nation’s economic arteries – as they demanded the release of their political hero.

Low income levels and unemployment – standing at a record high of 32.6% among the workforce and even higher at 46.3% among young people – are seen as exploding bombs.

Many South Africans are shocked by the unrest that has engulfed Zuma’s political heart KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng economic center.

And many think his successor as president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has failed to provide decisive leadership – either to quell anger over Zuma’s imprisonment or to reassure South Africa that they will be safe.

Mr Ramaphosa was accused of delaying the deployment of troops – and only 2,500 of them compared to the 70,000 he decided to implement a nationwide blockade to curb the spread of Covid-19 last year.

But there is no agreement on the settlement – the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party has opposed it, saying the solution lies in “political intervention and engagement with our people”.

Many residents in the affected areas have stayed at home, and some have formed what local media call “defense teams” to protect their neighborhoods and businesses as looting continues.

There is no doubt that the riots are the biggest security challenge that Mr. Ramaphosa has faced since becoming president in 2019, and it will exacerbate the economic crisis, already hit by the Covid pandemic, as many businesses, including supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail stores, have been destroyed.

Video footage shows that a blood bank was also looted in the coastal city of Durban, after Mr. Ramaphosa addressed the nation Monday evening.

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