Chaos in South Africa as rioters defy security forces


South African forces fail to contain looting and violence in which more than 70 people have been killed over several days.

South African National Defense Force (SANDF) members in Soweto. [Shiraaz Mohamed/Anadolu]
South African National Defense Force (SANDF) members in Soweto. [Shiraaz Mohamed/Anadolu]

14 Jul 2021 by https://www.aljazeera.com/

Stores and warehouses in South Africa were hit by looters on Tuesday for a fifth day running despite President Cyril Ramaphosa deploying troops to quell unrest that has killed at least 72 people.

Protests that followed the arrest of former leader Jacob Zuma last week for failing to appear at a corruption inquiry have widened into looting and an outpouring of general anger over the hardship and inequality that persist 27 years after the end of apartheid.

Poverty has been exacerbated by severe social and economic restrictions aimed at blocking the spread of COVID-19.

Security officials said the government was working to halt the spread of the violence and looting, which has spread from Zuma’s home in KwaZulu-Natal province to the country’s biggest city Johannesburg and surrounding Gauteng province, and to the Indian Ocean port city of Durban.

The armed forces were sending 2,500 soldiers to help the overwhelmed police. But these numbers are dwarfed by the deployment of more than 70,000 soldiers to enforce last year’s coronavirus lockdown, and only a handful of them were seen at some shopping centres.

“The total number of people who have lost their lives since the beginning of these protests … has risen to 72,” the police said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Most of the deaths “relate to stampedes that occurred during incidents of looting of shops”, it said.

Others were linked to shootings and explosions of bank ATMs.

The number of arrests has risen to 1,234, although many thousands have been involved in the ransacking sprees.

Smoke rises from a Makro building set on fire overnight in Umhlanga, north of Durban. [Rajesh Jantilal/AFP]
Smoke rises from a Makro building set on fire overnight in Umhlanga, north of Durban. [Rajesh Jantilal/AFP]

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People throw rocks as they confront police officers at the entrance of a partially looted mall in Vosloorus. [Marco Longari/AFP]
People throw rocks as they confront police officers at the entrance of a partially looted mall in Vosloorus. [Marco Longari/AFP]
Members of the military look at the damaged ATMs outside a bank in Soweto as the country deploys the army to quell unrest linked to the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma. [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]
Members of the military look at the damaged ATMs outside a bank in Soweto as the country deploys the army to quell unrest linked to the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma. [Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]
A suspected looter pleads with an armed private security officer as he is detained inside a flooded mall in Vosloorus. [Marco Longari/AFP]
A suspected looter pleads with an armed private security officer as he is detained inside a flooded mall in Vosloorus. [Marco Longari/AFP]
A South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier detains suspected looters at the Jabulani mall in Soweto on the outskirts of Johannesburg. [Emmanuel Croset/AFP]
A South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier detains suspected looters at the Jabulani mall in Soweto on the outskirts of Johannesburg. [Emmanuel Croset/AFP]
Arrested looters lie on the ground after being arrested in Johannesburg. [Kim Ludbrook/EPA]
Arrested looters lie on the ground after being arrested in Johannesburg. [Kim Ludbrook/EPA]

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Residents block off streets as looters ransack Durban shops. [Courtesy of Kierran Allen via Reuters]
Residents block off streets as looters ransack Durban shops. [Courtesy of Kierran Allen via Reuters]
People queue to buy food at a supermarket, with most stores staying closed in Hillcrest, South Africa. [Rogan Ward/Reuters]
People queue to buy food at a supermarket, with most stores staying closed in Hillcrest, South Africa. [Rogan Ward/Reuters]
Soldiers and police stationed at a shopping centre in Soweto, Johannesburg. [Themba Hadebe/AP Photo]
Soldiers and police stationed at a shopping centre in Soweto, Johannesburg. [Themba Hadebe/AP Photo]