© Reuters. PHOTO OF THE FILE: A self-armed local searches for robberies inside a supermarket after protests turned into robberies in Durban, South Africa, on July 13, 2021, on this screen taken from a video. By Kerran Allen / REUTERS
By Rogan Ward and Siyabonga Sishi
DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) – South Africa plans to deploy 25,000 troops as security forces in the two provinces are fighting to abolish days of robbery, burning and violence, its defense minister told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, according to the local news channel. eNCA.
A military increase of this size would increase ten times the number of soldiers deployed in the hot spots of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, where police and army are fighting in unrest these days.
“We have now submitted a request for deployment (about 25,000 members),” a video recording by Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula Minister of Defense and Military Veterans at the eNCA.
Following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma last week for failing to appear in a corruption investigation, protests have spread to a looting orgy and anger has erupted after 27 years in South Africa over difficulties and inequalities. the end of apartheid.
More than 70 people have been killed in unrest, the worst in South Africa in years, and hundreds of businesses have been damaged. There is little supply of food and fuel.
Shopping malls and warehouses have been dragged or set on fire in several cities, most notably in the home of Zuma in KwaZulu-Natal province, especially in the port city of Durban in the Indian Ocean and in the financial and economic center of Johannesburg and Gauteng province.
But as a sign of public reaction, residents of several areas on Wednesday turned into alleged robberies by police, blocked access to shopping malls and in some cases armed as guards to block or scare away roads.
In Voslooros, south of Johannesburg, minibus taxi operators, many of whom are armed, fired bullets into the air to ward off the thefts.
“We can’t allow people to come here to loot anywhere,” said Paul Magolego, a spokesman for the Vosloorus taxi association, adding that taxi drivers have not had any business since Monday due to unrest.
Underlining the inherent dangers of such surveillance, a 15-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet in Voslooro, the body was spotted, according to a Reuters photographer. Magolego said the taxi owners arrived at the scene of the death.
In the northern Alexandria town of Johannesburg, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, a Reuters reporter saw soldiers moving door to door to confiscate stolen items with the help of civilians who were opposed to the robbery.
Citizens with white minority weapons in South Africa blocked the streets to prevent further looting, in Durban, Reuters television showed.
Others were forming online groups to help clean up and rebuild the destroyed neighborhoods.
‘WE HAVE NOTHING’
Security forces say more than 1,200 people have been arrested, and President Cyril Ramaphosa met with political party leaders on Wednesday to discuss the unrest.
Violence seems to have diminished in some areas, but in others there were new burns and looting.
Some wealthy people in Durban rented small planes and helicopters outside the city, a Reuters photographer reported.
Despite Zuma’s imprisonment, the unrest reflects growing frustration with the ruling African National Congress in 1994 after the end of the rule of the white minority that began democracy in the face of inequality.
“It’s not Zuma’s account, it’s poverty,” Elias said, as the soldiers confiscated things stolen from Alexandra’s home.
“I’ve taken things that can take on those cold drinks and some paint. The real reason is because we really have nothing.”
Half of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the latest government data from 2015, and many have been left disappointed by the unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic began. Unemployment was a new record of 32.6% in the first three months of 2021.
The unrest also disrupted hospitals that were struggling to deal with the third wave of COVID-19.
The National Hospital Network (NHN) said it is already representing 241 public hospitals as a result of the African COVID-19 epidemic, which is depleting oxygen and drugs, most of which are imported across Durban, as well as food.
The mayor of Ethekwin, the municipality that comprises Durban, estimated that 15 billion rand ($ 1 billion) was lost in property damage and another billion in stock loss.
“I call on the Zulu nation to stop participating in the destruction of our country,” King Misuzulu of Zulu said in an appearance – many of the affected areas are mainly Zulu, the nation that is Jacob Zuma.
Zuma, 79, was convicted last month of challenging a court order to provide evidence in an investigation into the nine years he has been in charge until 2018.
In an exceptional case, he pleaded not guilty to corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering.
($ 1 = $ 14,7161)