72 dead in South Africa's Zuma riots, worst violence in decades

Soldiers patrol the streets in worst violence in South Africa over Zuma

Soldiers patrol the streets in worst violence in South Africa over Zuma

Soldiers patrol the streets in worst violence in South Africa over Zuma
Soldiers patrol the streets in worst violence in South Africa over Zuma

Agency Reports

As many as 72 people have died in South Africa, following days of protest over the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) which gave the figure of casualties late Tuesday also 1,234 people have been arrested .

Notably the protests have now turned into rampant looting and riots, to become the worst violence in the country since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Crowds clashed with police and ransacked or set ablaze shopping malls in cities across South Africa on Tuesday, as anger over Zuma jailing boiled over.

Security officials said the government was working to halt the spread of the violence and looting, which has spread from Zuma’s home in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province to the country’s biggest city Johannesburg and surrounding Gauteng province, and to the Indian Ocean port city of Durban.

There have been reports of sporadic violence in two others provinces as well and “law enforcement officers patrolling identified areas of threat in an effort to deter possible opportunistic criminality,” SAPS said.

Soldiers have been sent onto the streets to try to contain the unrest.

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

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He also faces trial in a separate case on charges including corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering. He pleaded not guilty in court in May.

Zuma’s foundation said there would be no peace in South Africa until the former president was released from jail.

“Peace and stability in South Africa is directly linked to the release of President Zuma with immediate effect,” it said in a Tweet.

“The violence could have been avoided. It started with the decision of the constitutional court to detain president Zuma … This is what gave anger to the people,” a spokesman for the foundation, Mzwanele Manyi, told Reuters separately.

Troops moved into flashpoints on Tuesday as outnumbered police seemed helpless to stop the unrest, with columns of armoured personnel carriers rolling down highways.

The bodies of 10 people were found on Monday evening after a stampede at a Soweto shopping mall, Gauteng premier David Makhura said.

Hundreds of looters raided warehouses and supermarkets in Durban, one of the busiest shipping terminals on the African continent and an import-export hub.

Outside a Durban warehouse of retailer Game, looters stuffed cars with electronic goods and clothes, a Reuters witness said. Inside, the floor was a mess of discarded packaging as the crowd emptied the shelves.