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Friday, January 21, 2022

Deadly unrest rages in South Africa

The death toll in South Africa has risen to 72 as violence continues across the country following the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.

Crowds looting and setting alight shopping centres clashed with police in several cities on Tuesday.

The BBC filmed a baby being thrown from a building in Durban that was on fire after ground-floor shops were looted.

A day earlier, 10 people were killed in a stampede during looting at a shopping centre in Soweto.

The military have been deployed to help police overstretched since the unrest began last week.

South African police said in a statement they had identified 12 people suspected of provoking the riots, and that a total of 1,234 people had been arrested.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called it some of the worst violence witnessed in South Africa since the 1990s, before the end of apartheid, with fires started, highways blocked and businesses and warehouses looted in major cities and small towns in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

Ministers have warned that if looting continues, there is a risk areas could run out of basic food supplies soon – but have ruled out declaring a state of emergency.

How bad is the damage?

More than 200 shopping malls had been looted by Monday afternoon, Bloomberg news agency quoted the chief executive officer of Business Leadership South Africa, Busisiwe Mavuso, as saying.

Several shopping centres in Soweto – South Africa’s largest township which was once home to Nelson Mandela – have been completely ransacked, with ATMs broken into, restaurants, stores selling alcohol and clothing shops all left in tatters.

Soldiers working with the police managed to catch a few rioters; in total almost 800 have been arrested, but law enforcement remains heavily outnumbered, he reports.

In KwaZulu-Natal – where livestock has also been stolen – the unrest continues with ambulances coming under attack by rioters in some areas, South Africa’s TimesLive news site reports.

Video footage shows that a blood bank was looted in Durban as Mr Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday night.

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