Death toll in South Africa climbs above 100 as thousands of soldiers deployed on streets

The violence was sparked by the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma

Via AP news wire
Thursday 15 July 2021 18:15 BST
South Africa Zuma Riots
South Africa Zuma Riots (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The death toll in the violence which has engulfed South Africa in the past few days climbed above 100 on Thursday as the army begun deploying 25,000 troops on the streets to assist police.

At least 117 people have been killed in the violence, authorities said, in week-long violence sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.

The show of force by the army was the largest deployment of soldiers since the end of white minority rule in 1994. The South African National Defence Force has also called up all of its reserve force of 12,000 troops. Trucks, armoured personnel carriers and helicopters were used to transport soldiers to trouble spots in the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

A convoy of more than a dozen carriers brought soldiers into Gauteng province, South Africa’s most populous, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria.

The violence erupted last week after Zuma began serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court for refusing to comply with a court order to testify at a state-backed inquiry investigating allegations of corruption while he was president from 2009 to 2018.

Despite the climb in the death count, the armed patrols appear to have succeeded in bringing stability to Gauteng. Many of those killed were trampled in chaotic stampedes when shops were being looted, according to police, said Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, acting minister in the presidency.

The unrest, however, continued in KwaZulu-Natal province where several factories and warehouses smoldered after being targeted in arson attacks.

More than 2,200 people have been arrested for theft and vandalism, Mr Ntshavheni added.

Police said they had discovered more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition in Durban on Wednesday night, which Minister of Police Bheki Cele said belonged to people who were instigating the violent riots in the province.

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