(SOUTH AFRICA) LATEST: Deploy up to 25,000 soldiers in two provinces where security forces are struggling to quell looting, arson and violence #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.15: A military surge of that size would increase tenfold the number of soldiers deployed in the hotspots of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, where the police and army have been battling unrest for days.

#AceDailyNews says South Africa to deploy 25,000 soldiers to deal with looting and riots after police are over powered by protestors against President Zumas jailing and we have now submitted a request for deployment of these members,” Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said.

An aerial shot of a street corner with refuse everywhere and people looting a semi-trailer.
Protests over the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma have spiralled out of control. (Reuters: Rogan Ward)

Former president Jacob Zuma was jailed last week after he failed to appear at a corruption inquiry, triggering protests that widened into mass looting and an outpouring of anger over the hardship and inequality that persist in South Africa 27 years after the end of apartheid.

More than 70 people have been killed in the unrest, the worst in South Africa for years, and hundreds of businesses have been destroyed. Food and fuel supplies are running short.

Shopping centres and warehouses have been ransacked or set ablaze in several cities.

But in signs of a public backlash, residents in some areas on Wednesday turned suspected looters in to police, blocked entrances to malls and in some cases armed themselves as vigilantes to form roadblocks or scare offenders away.

A large men of men all with faces and some with guns covered stand in a street.
Some civilians have taken up guns to block roads and stop looting.(Reuters: Kierran Allen)

In Vosloorus, southern Johannesburg, minibus taxi operators, many of whom have guns, fired bullets into the air to scare off looters.

“We can’t just allow people from nowhere to come and loot here,” Paul Magolego, Vosloorus taxi association spokesperson, said adding that taxi drivers had had no business since Monday because of the unrest.

Underscoring the inherent dangers in such vigilantism, a 15-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet in Vosloorus.

Mr Magolego said the taxi owners arrived on the scene after he was dead.

In Alexandra township in northern Johannesburg, one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods, soldiers were moving door to door to confiscate stolen items, with the help of civilians opposed to the looting.

Citizens armed with guns, many from South Africa’s white minority, blocked off streets to prevent further plundering, in Durban, Reuters TV footage showed.

Others were forming online groups to help clean up and rebuild devastated neighbourhoods.

Police officers in ski masks detain two men on the side of the road with a ute filled with boxed whitegoods.
More than 1,200 people have been arrested so far, according to the authorities. (Reuters: Rogan Ward)

‘We have nothing’

Security forces say they have arrested more than 1,200 people. And President Cyril Ramaphosa met with political party leaders on Wednesday to discuss the unrest.

The violence appeared to have abated in some areas, but in others, there was renewed burning and looting.

Some rich Durban residents chartered small planes and helicopters to flee the city.

Man in a suit frowns.
Former South African president Jacob Zuma was jailed after refusing to appear before a corruption inquiry. (Pool via AP: Michele Spatari)

Though triggered by Mr Zuma’s imprisonment, the unrest reflects growing frustration about failures by the ruling African National Congress to address inequality decades after the end of white minority rule in 1994 ushered in democracy.

“It’s not about Zuma, it’s about poverty,” a man who gave his name as Elijah said, as soldiers confiscated stolen items from his house in Alexandra.

“I grabbed things I could take like those cold drinks and some paint. I guess the real reason is because we actually have nothing.”

Half the population lives below the poverty line, according to the latest government figures from 2015, and growing joblessness since the coronavirus pandemic began has left many desperate.

Unemployment stood at a new record high of 32.6 per cent in the first three months of 2021.

Fire engulfs a large warehouse-style building.
Malls and markets have been looted and in some cases torched.(Reuters: Sibonelo Zungu)

The unrest also disrupted hospitals struggling to cope with a third wave of COVID-19.

The National Hospital Network (NHN), representing 241 public hospitals already under strain from Africa’s worst COVID-19 epidemic, said it was running out of oxygen and drugs, most of which are imported through Durban, as well as food.

The Mayor of Ethekwini, a municipality that includes Durban, estimated that 15 billion rand ($1.38 billion) had been lost in damage to property and another billion in loss of stock.

“I appeal to the Zulu nation to withdraw from the participation in the destruction of our country,” Zulu King Misuzulu said in an address.

Many of the affected areas are predominantly Zulu, the nation to which Mr Zuma belongs.

Mr Zuma, 79, was sentenced last month for defying a court order to give evidence at an inquiry investigating high-level theft during his nine years in office until 2018.

He has pleaded not guilty in a separate case on charges including corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

Reuters

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: July.15: 2021:

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