In South Africa, the protests against the imprisonment of ex-President Zuma have turned into bloody violence. Looting, blocked roads and violent clashes with numerous dead and injured now require the use of the military.
After days of violent protests and looting, South Africa’s military has started patrols in the affected regions. As the prime minister of the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Sihle Zikalala, and police officers announced on Tuesday, a total of 32 people were killed in the riots. There were also numerous injuries. Most people died as a result of mass panic, said Zikalala. In view of the overwhelming number of looters, the police intervened relatively late in many places. There have been around 750 arrests so far. The estimated damage now amounts to 1 billion rand (60 million euros), according to Zikalala.
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Looting in many regions of South Africa
The police had initially reported at least nine deaths. Police Minister Bheki Cele admitted that the numbers could be significantly higher. In view of the overwhelming number of looters, the police intervened relatively late in many places. So far there have been a total of almost 500 arrests. Cele warned local residents not to take the law into their own hands. State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said security agencies are also examining reports of attacks against foreigners in KwaZulu-Natal province and interracial tensions. The national TV stations reported further cases of looting.
Protests against the imprisonment of Zuma have turned into widespread riots
What began as a protest against the imprisonment of ex-President Jacob Zuma has developed into large-scale riots within a few days. These would have interrupted important supply chains, which within a few weeks ‘could expose South Africa to a great risk of food and drug insecurity,’ warned President Cyril Ramaphosa in a televised address on Monday evening. This could have life-threatening consequences, especially during the corona pandemic.
The northern province of Gauteng with the economic metropolis of Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria as well as Zuma’s eastern home province of KwaZulu-Natal are particularly affected. In the port city of Durban, which is particularly badly affected there, the city administration announced on Tuesday that there could be problems because of the protests with the city supply services – such as the water supply. Urgent repair work could not be carried out.
Zuma was sentenced to a 15-month prison sentence last week for disregarding the judiciary, starting on Wednesday. He has to answer before a commission of inquiry into various allegations of corruption during his term of office (2009-2018), but did not accept a subpoena.