South Africa has begun spreading more than 20,000 troops to help police deal with the unrest over the past week, while the death toll has plummeted to 117 people in the uprising and looting following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, the authorities said Thursday.
In one of the largest deployments of soldiers since the end of white minority rule in 1994, the government said 10,000 soldiers were on the road Thursday morning and the South African National Defense Force also called in its full force. reserve of 12,000 troops.
In a rally in force, a convoy of more than a dozen armored personnel carriers carried soldiers Thursday in Gauteng province, South Africa’s most populous city, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the executive capital. , Pretoria.
Buses, trucks, airplanes and helicopters have also been used to disperse the large-scale deployment of troops at problem points in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal province which have seen a week of violence in mainly poor areas.
The unrest, which began last Friday, was sparked by the imprisonment of former President Zuma but has escalated into complaints of inequality and poverty.
More than 2,200 people have been arrested, the minister in charge of the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said. he said at a press conference, adding that Johannesburg was now “relatively calm”.
But in the KwaZulu-Natal province, the epicenter of the violence, the minister said the “situation remains volatile, but much improved and is heading towards stability.”
About 100 acts of violence were recorded Wednesday, but less than three dozen on Thursday, he said.
Violence did not spread to the seven other provinces of South Africa, where police are on alert.
– Presidency AfricaFabiola Uccheddu @ (@f_uccheddu) July 15, 2021
Bernard Smith, of Al Jazeera, reported from Johannesburg said it was “much calmer” in the country’s economic center.
«Members of the [Johannesburg] the community goes door-to-door with the army to find people who have looted shops and returned things to them, ”he added.
Meanwhile, in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal province, where there has been much more violence, there are fears that the situation could get worse, Smith said.
“There are already queues outside the supermarkets where people buy panic, and where a refinery has been forced to stop working because … the workers could not get to the refinery. And so it caused panic to buy a hand. of fuel in supermarkets “.
The unrest has also disrupted hospitals struggling to treat a third wave of COVID-19. They say they are running out of oxygen and drugs, most of which are imported to Durban.
Some vaccination centers have been forced to close.
President Cyril Ramaphosa told political party leaders that parts of the country “may soon be short of basic provisions” after the disruption of supply chains.
Security forces have increased their presence in the Durban suburb of Phoenix, where riots have increased racial tensions.
Predominantly Indian residents of Phoenix had patrolled their area against the unrest and are accused of shooting at Blacks suspected of being insurgents.
“Life was lost. The communities have a commitment and they are in a bad way because they are the Indian community and the neighboring communities, which are African, ”police Minister Bheki Cele said at a press conference Thursday in Phoenix, where he said 15 people they had been killed.
Cele had previously said that about 12 people had been investigated for inciting and planning the disorder.
“The Indian nation here in KZN is the second largest outside of India,” the new Zulu king, Missizulu Zulu, said in an appeal to his community on Wednesday.
“We have lived peacefully with them for many years. So I ask, “Are we smart and thoughtful about each other?”
Zuma, 79, was convicted last month of challenging an order to testify in a judicial inquiry into high-level corruption during his tenure from 2009 to 2018.
He pleaded not guilty in a separate case to charges including corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering.
He says he is the victim of a witch hunt by his political enemies.
Zuma’s fall from grace opened a power struggle in the African National Congress (ANC), which he has ruled since the end of apartheid in 1994.
The former president’s loyalists constitute the strongest faction opposed to President Ramaphosa.