Since the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma on Thursday, the situation has been particularly dramatic in South Africa. The violence, fueled by a general fed up against the backdrop of the economic crisis, intensified with a final report Tuesday evening reporting 72 dead. The African Union for its part condemned “with the greatest firmness the outbreak of violence which has resulted in the death of civilians and appalling scenes of looting”, calling for “an urgent restoration of order”.
In Zulu country, stronghold of the former head of state where he is imprisoned, the first limited incidents broke out on Friday with blocked roads and several trucks set on fire. But within days, 27 people were killed in the area, police said. More than 500 km away, violence and frenzied looting spread to the country’s largest city, Johannesburg: 45 people died in the province. Most of the deaths occurred during stampede and looting of shops and malls, police said. Others are also linked to ATM explosions and gunfire.
Police overwhelmed, army deployed
Hard hit by a third wave of Covid-19, South Africa, which has reached record unemployment at 32.6% since the pandemic, imposed new health restrictions at the end of June. In this context, thousands of South Africans turned a deaf ear to the authorities’ appeals for calm and continued to flock to warehouses and shops, filling carts and trunks with cars.
Images on social networks showed compact crowds rushing to retrieve a giant TV, a table or even canned food … The police, in numbers, were quickly overwhelmed and the army was deployed, with 2,500 soldiers. A total of 1,234 people were arrested. In the evening Tuesday, messages giving little by little the extent of the destruction continued to flow. “This afternoon, one of our depots was looted and burned,” for example posted on Facebook one of the largest breweries in the country.
Jacob Zuma’s children call for violence
If “frustrations and anger” have “political roots”, “no cause can justify” this violence, criticized President Cyril Ramaphosa. Police Minister Bheki Cele pledged that the situation “will not deteriorate further”. But for the moment nothing helps.
The opposition party Democratic Alliance has also announced a complaint against several children of Jacob Zuma, who in recent days have increased calls for violence. The former president was sentenced to 15 months in prison after repeatedly refusing to testify in investigations into state corruption during his tenure (2009-2018).
Source: 20Minutes – Une by www.20minutes.fr.
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