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Violence spills over, South Africa on a boil!

On Tuesday, violence erupted as angry crowds clashed with police, ransacking and burning shopping malls in South Africa, with dozens reported killed after grievances unleashed by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma boiled over into the worst violence in years. Following Zuma’s arrest last week, protests have turned into looting and a generalized outpouring of anger over inequality that remains 27 years after the end of apartheid. In order to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, severe social and economic restrictions have exacerbated poverty.

Security officials said the government was working to stop the violence and looting, which has spread from Zuma’s home in KwaZulu-Natal to Gauteng. They deployed soldiers onto the streets to contain it, but did not declare a state of emergency. In a recent news conference, police minister Bheki Cele reiterated President Cyril Ramaphosa’s sentiments about looting, vandalism and breaking the law as a result of unhappiness or whatever circumstance people may be going through.

Premier David Makhura said 10 people were found dead after a stampede at a Soweto shopping mall on Monday evening. Warehouses and supermarkets in Durban were looted by hundreds of looters, one of the busiest shipping ports on the African continent and a major import-export hub. Looters stuffed cars with clothing and electronic goods outside a warehouse of retailer Game in Durban, as depicted in a Reuters report. As the crowd systematically emptied the shelves, the floor was a wreckage of discarded packaging.

Aerial footage from local channel eNCA showed black smoke rising from several warehouses while debris was strewn everywhere. On Tuesday, troops moved into flashpoints as an outnumbered police force seemed unable to control the unrest. Armored personnel carriers rolled down the highways. The rand, which was one of the best-performing emerging market currencies during the pandemic, slumped to a three-month low on Tuesday, and local and hard currency bonds fell.

So far, 45 people have been killed in the unrest, 19 in Gauteng and 26 in KwaZulu-Natal, according to state and provincial authorities. Cele states the official death toll is 10. Journalists from Reuters report that protestors threw stones at police, who responded with rubber bullets. As shop owners assessed the damage in Soweto, police and military patrolled the streets. Cele said 757 people have been arrested so far. In his statement, he said the government would ensure the outbreak did not spread further by making a mockery of democracy by the actions it takes.

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At the same news conference, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she does not think a state of emergency should be imposed yet. The 79-year-old Zuma was sentenced last month for refusing to cooperate with an inquiry investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in office until 2018. Legal proceedings have been viewed as a test of South Africa’s ability to enforce the rule of law post-apartheid. Any confrontation with soldiers could fuel Zuma and his supporters’ accusations that they are victims of Ramaphosa’s politically motivated crackdown.

Zuma’s 15-month prison sentence was challenged in court on Monday, escalating violence. The judgment was reserved until an unspecified date. After white minority rule ended in 1994, the situation deteriorated, pointing to wider problems and unfulfilled expectations. As a result of Africa’s worst COVID-19 epidemic, the economy is struggling to recover, with authorities repeatedly restricting business. Joblessness has left people ever more desperate. For the first three months of 2021, unemployment climbed to 32.6%.



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