Over 70 People Killed As Violent Protests and Riots Engulf South Africa

Violent protests and riots have taken South Africa by storm as the former President Jacob Zuma is imprisoned. 

By Maryam Razzaq

Corruption allegations have long since surrounding the former President of South Africa. The ex-leader of South Africa, Jacob Zuma turned himself in to police to serve a 15-month jail term for contempt of court last week. Many of the corruption allegations that Zuma faces are said to be irrefutable. Zuma belonged to the governing African National Congress (ANC), and his arrest has caused deep division in the party and those loyal to the former president. There has been a strong response and opposition to Zuma’s successor, Cyril Ramphosa. 

Zuba’s loyal supported have failed to understand the allegations that he faces and have refused to accept the legalities of his jail term sentence. As a result, crowds of people in South Africa are looting shops and offices. The government has called to an end to the week of violence which has resulted in more than 70 individuals killed and the destructions of hundreds of businesses. 

Currently, the death toll in South Africa is 72 as violence engulfs the nation. 1,234 individuals have been arrested for their connection to initializing the violent riots and looting. 

“More than 200 shopping malls have been looted and the violence is expected to continue,” said CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, Busisiwe Mavuso. 

South African Army patrol the area as rioters loot malls and office. Soweto, South Africa, July 13, 2021. Image Credits: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The people of South African are now looting and rioting in anger over the inequalities and hardships that have plagued the nation 27 years after the end of apartheid. South Africans are experiencing concerning economic circumstances as their unemployment has reached a record of 32.6% and the nation’s GDP has fallen by a record of 7% in 2020 which proved to be the steepest decline in over a century. Poverty also continues in South African, as 49.2% of the nation’s population over the age of 18 falls below the upper-bound poverty line. The people of South African are now reacting with anger over the government’s financial irresponsibility.  

South Africa also continues to suffer from the lasting effects of apartheid, even though the system was officially diminished in 1994. Economic apartheid continues to occur as White South Africans continue to do better in all social indicators. According to the World Competitiveness Survey, 58% of White South Africans enter some form of higher education, while comparatively, only 12% of Black Africans do. 

South Africa’s current President, Cyril Ramphosa has met with several other political leaders to discuss ways to calm the unrest and violence, but many have accused him of failing to provide decisive leadership as the government has held back from imposing a state of emergency despite the violence that is currently engulfing the nation. 

“President Ramaphosa welcome proposals made by political leaders and said expanded deployment of the South African National Defence Force was being address,” a government statement said. 

There has been severe economic damage because of the rioting and looting. The mayor of Ethekwini estimated that 1.2 billion Canadians has been lost in property damage and roughly another billion in the stock losses. Around 40,000 business have been targets of the violence, which has put about 130,000 jobs at risk. 

Thandi Johnson, a Soweto shop owner shared her thoughts as she was looted by rioters.

“It’s just like being raped. And then you see the rapist walking past you. Twelve years I’ve been working on this business, and it’s destroyed in one day. They pushed me aside as I pleaded with them that I am one of them, but they just came in and took everything,” said Johnson.

Many are discussing how the riots and violence are a direct result of a larger issue which is due to the government’s failure to meet the needs of their population. The anger, frustration and pain of the South Africans cannot be ignored any longer. 

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