72 People Killed in Riots and Looting in South Africa

A fire engulfs Campsdrift Park following protests that have widened into looting in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, July 13, 2021, in this screen grab taken from a video obtained from social media. (Courtesy Sibonelo Zungu/via Reuters)

Seventy-two people have been killed in riots and looting in South Africa, police said Tuesday, amid protests over the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.

Violence erupted last week when Zuma began serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.

In the country’s worst unrest in years, looters vandalized shopping malls, other retail outlets and businesses in the province of Gauteng, which includes the country’s largest city of Johannesburg. Security forces seemed unable to prevent the looting and attacks, which also occurred in Zuma’s home province, KwaZulu-Natal and in Soweto.

But protesters have also taken to the street to denounce economic hardship which has increased during the pandemic over the last year.

The increased death toll comes as South Africa announced it would deploy thousands of troops to reinforce overwhelmed police officers in two states.

Police said Tuesday that most of the deaths were the result of stampedes around incidents of looting. Over 1,000 people have been arrested since demonstrations began last week.

In his address to the nation Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa denounced the violence and looting, urging calm.

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SOURCE: VOA News

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