Over 30 people have reportedly died in South Africa after protesters clashed with security forces in different areas in the country.
Tagged the worst unrest in years, the violence was triggered by the sentencing and imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. Protesters hit the streets in parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Zuma’s home province, after the ex-leader handed himself over to police to serve a 15-month jail term for contempt of court.
However, the protest has since escalated to anger over persistent poverty and inequality in South Africa, 27 years after the end of apartheid. Looters have used the opportunity to hurt others, destroy stores and cart away with properties as the protest spreads to different cities.
A majority of the dead are victims of the chaotic stampedes as scores of people looted food, electrical appliances, liquor and clothing from retail centres, according to KwaZulu-Natal province premier Sihle Zikalala.
According to the premier of Gauteng province, David Makhura, 10 people were found dead on Monday evening after a stampede at a Soweto shopping mall in the province.
Late on Monday, July 12, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the deployment of troops to help overwhelmed police halt the unrest and “restore order”.
In the nationally televised address on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the deadly violence gripping the country’s two most densely populated provinces was unprecedented in post-apartheid South Africa.
“Parts of the country are reeling from several days and nights of public violence, destruction of property and looting of the sort rarely seen before in the history of our democracy,” Ramaphosa said.