South Africa is officially dispatching 25,000 troops to aid police in stopping the weeklong riots and looting that have caused wide swaths of destruction throughout the country’s commercial, industrial, and even residential areas. At least 117 people have been killed in the violence.
As previously reported by Rebel News, the riots were sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, who was found guilty of contempt of court for failing to appear before a commission investigating corruption accusations. Zuma’s foundation riled up supporters, calling on them to fight back against the current government in South Africa.
Zuma faces 16 counts of fraud, money laundering, and racketeering for participating in a multibillion-dollar embezzlement scheme during his tenure as South Africa’s president. The country’s intelligence service is currently investigating the extent to which Zuma’s supporters were responsible for initiating the violence, which first began in the KwaZulu-Natal province, a Zuma stronghold.
“The government said 10,000 soldiers were on the streets by Thursday morning patrolling alongside police, and the South African National Defence Force had also called up all of its reserve force of 12,000 troops,” ABC News reported Friday. The outlet noted that convoys of soldiers have begun deploying across Gauteng province, South Africa’s most populous, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria.
“In KwaZulu-Natal, it’s well-coordinated, well-funded. If you look at it, strategic commercial hubs were blocked, strategic roads were blocked at really key points. It was very organized,” one South African political expert said in an interview with ABC News.
The riots come as South Africa struggles to keep its economy afloat, which is struggling with a massive 33 per cent unemployment rate. 20 per cent of South Africans reportedly live on less than $2 a day — woes that residents blame on the failed leadership of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Despite the efforts of police and residents who’ve taken up arms, riots have become increasingly violent over the week as commercial and industrial areas have been hit by arson attacks. ABC News reports that the attacks on these places have been “renewed” despite success in tamping down unrest in certain areas. Rioters have also stopped traffic on highways and set fire to trucks, which have been the target of robberies.
“More than 2,200 people have been arrested for theft and vandalism and 117 people have died, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, acting minister in the presidency said Thursday,” ABC News reported. “Many were trampled to death in chaotic stampedes when shops were being looted, according to police.”