Viciousness Spreads in South Africa as Grievances Explode
Rioters burgled shops and threw stones at the police force on Tuesday as violent protests activated by the imprisoning of former president Jacob Zuma spread across South Africa.
The army prepared to lead in 2,500 groups as outnumbered crime squad seemed washed up to stop attacks on businesses in Zuma’s home province KwaZulu-Natal and in Gauteng province, where the nation’s main metropolitan, Johannesburg, is situated.
At least 30 individuals have been killed in days of unrest that broke out last week when Zuma gave himself over to authorities. The protests have been fuelled further by frustration over poverty, inequality, and the financial impact of COVID-19 restrictions.
Almost 500 individuals have been arrested, while shops, petrol stations, and government buildings have been compelled to close.
“What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a speech on Monday night.
Zuma, 79, was punished last month for opposing a constitutional court order to give evidence at an inquiry investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in office until 2018.
The decision to prison him was caused by legal proceedings seen as a test of post-apartheid South Africa’s ability to impose the rule of law, including against powerful politicians.
Regardless, any conflict with soldiers risks fueling charges by Zuma and his allies that they are victims of a politically roused crackdown by Ramaphosa, his successor.
The violence degenerated as Zuma challenged his 15-month lockup period in South Africa’s top court on Monday. Judgment was held in reserve until a vague date.
Four of the affirmed dead were in Gauteng, the national intelligence body NatJOINTS, said, and 26 in KwaZulu-Natal, the area’s chief said.
The unrest broke out as South Africa’s economy struggles to arise from the damage wrought by
Africa’s worst COVID-19 epidemic, compelling it to recurrently execute restrictions on businesses that have hurt an already fragile recovery.
The disaster may have broadened the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. Growing joblessness has left individuals perpetually frantic. Joblessness rose to another record high of 32.6% in the first quarter this year.
The National Prosecuting Authority said on Monday that those found guilty of robbing would be penalized.