The toll of violence in South Africa rose on Thursday to 117 dead, as Johannesburg, the largest city in the country, found relative calm and began to clear the rubble of the destruction. The megalopolis is “largely calm,” said Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, attributing the decrease in the number of incidents to the deployment of soldiers to reinforce the police.
In all, 26 people died there in a context of looting and fires, against a backdrop of endemic unemployment and new anti-Covid restrictions. To which must be added 91 deaths in the province of Kwazulu-Natal, in the east of the country, where the violence began six days ago, after the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. There, in the Zulu country, “things are improving” too, “we are heading towards stability,” added the minister. In all, 2,203 people have been arrested to date in the country.
Outbreak of violence
Earlier in the day, the Minister of Police confirmed that there were 20 deaths in Phoenix, a township near Durban (east), where members of the Indian community attacked suspected looters. And affirmed that the situation there remained tense. Bheki Cele had noted the day before that “racial tensions marred the unrest” in Phoenix, linked to groups seeking to “protect their neighborhood from looters”.
Videos of incredible violence circulate on social networks, spotted in particular via the hashtag #PhoenixMassacre. They show men of Indian origin brutally beating young black men on the ground. Elsewhere, as in the township of Vosloorus, south of Johannesburg, others take the place of the police, beating up suspected looters before handing over some, handcuffed, to the police.
Many South Africans, relying only on themselves, have also started to clear and repair. The South African presidency tweeted Thursday its thanks to “those who engage in the clean-up operations.” In central Johannesburg, many stores are closed. Streets remain blocked by charred barricades. “It’s no use being angry, you have to roll up your sleeves now,” testifies a local resident anxious to maintain his anonymity.
The army to pacify
The army will increase its troops on the ground, to stabilize Johannesburg and pacify the most tense areas, in particular the large cities of Kwazulu-Natal, the port of Durban and its capital Pietermaritzburg. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday authorized the deployment of 2,500 troops, doubled two days later. The Minister of Defense said she wanted up to 25,000 soldiers to deal with the emergency.
In the field, these announcements are received with relief. “The military is a good thing, because with us, people are much more afraid of a soldier than of a policeman,” said Musa Mbele-Radebe, 30, among the hundreds who cleared the ravaged shopping center of Jabulani (“rejoice” in Zulu) in Soweto.
Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.
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