72 Killed, 1,234 Arrested As South Africa Deploys Army To Curb Escalating Zuma Protests

72 Killed, 1,234 Arrested As South Africa Deploys Army To Curb Escalating Zuma Protests

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By Spy Uganda Correspondent 

South Africa: The death toll in South Africa has risen to 72 after violence engulfed parts of the country after the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.

This includes 10 people killed in a stampede during looting on Monday night at a shopping center in Soweto.

The military has now been deployed to help the police overstretched since the unrest began last week.

South African police said in a statement that they had identified 12 people suspected of provoking the riots and that a total of 1,234 people had been arrested.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called the unrest one of the worst violence witnessed in South Africa since the 1990s before the end of apartheid with fires set, highways blocked and businesses and warehouses looted in major cities and small towns in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

Ministers have warned that if looting continues, there is risk areas could run out of basic food supplies soon but have ruled out declaring a state of emergency.

More than 200 shopping malls had been looted by Monday afternoon according to the chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa, Busisiwe Mavuso.

”Several shopping centers in Soweto, South Africa’s largest township which was once home to Nelson Mandela have been completely ransacked, with ATMs broken into, restaurants, stores selling alcohol and clothing shops all left in tatters” Busisiwe said

In KwaZulu-Natal where livestock has also been stolen, the unrest continues with ambulances coming under attack by rioters in some areas.

According to the latest reports, there is video footage showing a blood bank was looted in Durban as Mr Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday night.

The catalyst was the arrest last week of Zuma with his supporters blockading major roads the economic arteries of the nation – as they demanded the release of their political hero.

Low-income levels and unemployment standing at a record high of 32.6% among the workforce and even higher at 46.3% among young people are seen as the ticking bombs that have exploded.

Many South Africans have been shaken by the riots that have swept through Zuma’s political heartland of KwaZulu-Natal and the economic hub of Gauteng.

And many feel that his successor as president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has failed to provide decisive leadership either to calm anger over Zuma’s imprisonment or to reassure South Africans that they will be safe.

Mr Ramaphosa was accused of belatedly deploying troops – and only 2,500 of them compared with the 70,000 he deployed to enforce a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 last year.

Many residents in affected areas have remained at home, and some have formed what local media call “defense squads” to protect their neighborhoods and businesses as looting and burning continue.

There is no doubt that the unrest is the biggest security challenge that Mr Ramaphosa has faced since he became president in 2018 after ousting Zuma. It is bound to worsen the economic crisis, already hit by the pandemic, given the scale of destruction.

Zuma was convicted of contempt of court last month after failing to attend an inquiry into corruption during his presidency.

The 79-year-old, who denies corruption, was given a 15-month prison sentence. He handed himself to police late on Wednesday.

He is hoping to get the sentence rescinded or reduced by the country’s constitutional court. However, legal experts say his chances of success are slim.

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