The spate of mass looting and indiscriminate vandalism began Friday following the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma. To counter the incidents, authorities have deployed 2,500 soldiers to the streets so far. The most serious incidents occurred in KwaZulu-Natal province and Gauteng province.
On Tuesday morning, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala confirmed the death of 26 citizens and the continuation of riots and looting around the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Gauteng Premier David Makhura confirmed 19 deaths, 10 of which occurred because of a stampede at a shopping mall in the former black ghetto district of Soweto.
"No dissatisfaction or personal circumstances of our people give anyone the right to loot, vandalize and do whatever they want and break the law," said Security Minister Bheki Cele, who has been harshly criticized for the inability of the security forces to handle the wave of vandalism.
South Africa officials said that further 22 had died during protests and lootings in the country, bringing the national death toll to 32. �� pic.twitter.com/0puVsr0Ezh
The violence began on Friday in KwaZulu-Natal, the home province of former president Jacob Zuma, who on June 29 was sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court after he refused to testify in a corruption case.
Although the former president himself surrendered peacefully to the authorities on July 7, his fellow countrymen blocked roads as a show of support for Zuma. In the following days, the demonstrations spread to areas around Johannesburg.
These riots come at the worst moment of a wave of COVID-19 cases in a country which has reported over 2.2 million infections and some 64,000 deaths so far. On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that the chaotic situation will impact food security, worse the epidemiological situation, and hamper economic recovery.
Today is the birthday of Joe Slovo, legendary Communist leader in South Africa.