December 5, 2022

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Latest Breaking News, European Affairs

South Africa Violence, Looting Ebbs But Death Toll Up To 117

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South Africa Voilance
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(Reuters) – South Africans counted the cost on Thursday of arson and looting that has destroyed hundreds of businesses and killed at least 117 people, as the spasm of violence began to ebb and the government doubled its troop deployment to 10,000.

Pockets of unrest remained, notably in the port city of Durban, where looters pillaged shops and racial tensions flared.

But in the main commercial city Johannesburg, shopkeepers and other residents sifted through debris, cleared up trash, and assessed what remained of their ruined enterprises.

The rioting broke out in response to the jailing of ex-President Jacob Zuma last week for his failure to appear at a corruption inquiry.

It swiftly degenerated into looting and destruction, driven by widespread anger over the hardship and inequality that nearly three decades of democracy since the end of apartheid have failed to address.

The military called up all its reservists to bolster the army and police who have struggled to contain the unrest.

The acting minister for the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said troop numbers had been doubled since Wednesday to 10,000. This was still fewer than the 25,000 Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday had been requested.

Ntshavheni also said the death toll had risen to 91 deaths in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province where his support is greatest, and stood at 26 in Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg, making a total of 117 killed so far. A total of 2,203 arrests had been made.

“We should be worried at the nature of violence that we’ve seen, the nature of criminality,” Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in an audio clip shared by her ministry.

“South Africa’s economy was just beginning to recover from the worst effects of the pandemic, this is going to further reverse our economic growth.”

RACIAL TENSIONS STOKED

In some neighborhoods, vigilante groups have sprung up to protect their property. But there was also evidence the latest chaos may be exacerbating the racial tensions that are a legacy of the apartheid system.

In Durban’s Phoenix neighborhood, home to many South Africans of Indian descent, authorities reported conflict between them and Black citizens.

“Ugly scenes are playing out on the streets of Phoenix, the racial direction that these unrests are taking must be arrested speedily,” Police Minister Bheki Cele said.

Twenty people have been killed in Phoenix since the start of the violence last week, he later said on television.

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