Over the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma, as protests have led to spiralling violence and looting, South Africa is facing its worst unrest in decades. In the violent clashes between police and protesters, along with stampedes by looting mobs, in six consecutive days, at least 72 people have lost their lives while more than 1200 people have been arrested so far, according to a report released by Al Jazeera.
On Friday, Zuma was jailed for contempt of court which initially gave rise to protests and now has mushroomed into grievances over inequality and poverty, which has rocked the entire nation.
To aid the police which has been largely outnumbered and unable to deal with the unfolding chaos, around 2,500 soldiers have been deployed to the two provincial epicentres of the unrest, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
For the fear of violence, thousands of businesses have been forced to close their doors or have been ransacked. According to the owner of a trucking components business in the Johannesburg Central business district, Humphrey Jeffries, they are not opening because they might get looted of the equipment which took them decades to afford, while the staff of 14 must stay at home until it’s safe, as said by him to Al Jazeera.
Along with flat-screen televisions, from food supplies and medicines to clothing being carried off during the loot, around 200 malls and shopping centres countrywide have been forced to close due the violence so far.
Now spreading to the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces, even after the armed forces have been deployed, unrest continues to persist.