JOHANNESBURG – The death toll from the riots in South Africa rose to 45 on Tuesday as police and military tried to end unrest in poor areas of two provinces that began last week after the prisoner was jailed. former president Jacob Zuma.
Numerous deaths in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces have occurred in chaotic scrambles as dozens of people steal food, electrical appliances, alcohol and clothing from stores, said responsible.
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Sporadic violence erupted after Zuma began serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court on Thursday. He had refused to comply with a court order to testify in a state-backed investigation investigating corruption allegations while he was president from 2009 to 2018.
The unrest then turned into a wave of looting in townships in both provinces, witnesses said, although it did not spread to the other seven provinces in South Africa, where police are on alert.
“The criminal element has hijacked this situation,” said Prime Minister David Makhura of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg.
More than 400 people have been arrested in Gauteng, but the situation is far from under control, he said.
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“We understand that these unemployed people have insufficient food. We understand that the situation has been made worse by the pandemic,” an emotional Makhura told the South African Broadcasting Corp. “But this looting is undermining our businesses here (in Soweto). It is undermining our economy, our community. It is undermining everything.”
As he spoke, the show showed police officers trying to restore order in the Ndofaya shopping center, where 10 people were crushed to death in a looting stampede. A few gunshots could be heard.
Makhura called on leaders of political, religious and community organizations to urge the population to stop the looting.
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At least 19 people were killed in Gauteng, including 10 at the Meadowlands Area Mall in Soweto, Makhura said.
At least 26 people have been killed in KwaZulu-Natal province, many crushed in shops, Prime Minister Sihle Zikalala told reporters on Tuesday.
The deployment of 2,500 troops to support South African police has yet to stop the widespread looting, although arrests are underway in parts of Johannesburg, including Vosloorus in the eastern part of the city.
Looting continued Tuesday in shopping malls in the townships of Johannesburg, including Jabulani and Dobsonville malls in Soweto. Looting has also been reported in KwaZulu-Natal.
Authorities have repeatedly warned Zuma supporters and relatives against using social media to encourage riots.
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The Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, heard Zuma’s request to quash his sentence on Monday. Zuma’s lawyer argued that the highest court made mistakes in sentencing Zuma to prison. After 10 hours of testimony, the judges said they would announce their decision at a later date.
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