Guwahati News Desk: After imprisonment of South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma, riot death toll rises to 72, as informed by officials.
The violence broke out after Zuma began serving a 15-month sentence for refusing to comply with a court order to testify at a state-backed inquiry, investigating allegations of corruption, while he was the president from 2009 to 2018.
Regarding the riots, the police Maj. Gen. Mathapelo Peters, stated that many of the deaths in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces occurred in chaotic stampedes, as thousands of people were stealing food, electric appliances, liquor and clothing from the stores.
He further added that 27 deaths were being investigated in KwaZulu-Natal province and 45 in Gauteng province and that police were investigating deaths caused by explosions when people tried to break into ATM machines, as well as other fatalities caused by shootings.
Sources further stated that more than half of South Africa’s 60 million people are living in poverty, with an unemployment rate of 32 per cent, and the job layoffs and an economic downturn during the pandemic has increased the hunger and desperation that helped propel the protests triggered by Zuma’s arrest into wider rioting.
The 6th Premier of Gauteng, Makhura, emotionally said on the state South African Broadcasting Corp, “We understand that those unemployed have inadequate food. We understand that the situation has been made worse by the pandemic…But this looting is undermining our businesses here (in Soweto). It is undermining our economy, our community. It is undermining everything.”
In his speech, he appealed for leaders of political, religious and community organizations to urge people to halt the unrest. Eventually, 2,500 soldiers were deployed to stop the rampant looting.
Authorities have informed that at least 1,234 people were arrested in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, but the situation was far from under control.
Photo | AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES