The number of deaths recorded from pro Zuma riots in South Africa have risen to 276. Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister of the South African government disclosed this to the press at a news conference held on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
According to Reuters, the minister said that 234 deaths were linked to the “unrest” in KwaZulu-Natal while 42 were linked to the violence in Gauteng. He added that the Police were investigating 168 cases for murder.
The riots sprung up from a court ruling which sentenced former South African President, Jacob Zuma to a 15 month jail term for contempt of court.
The riots began in Zuma’s hometown of KwaZulu-Natal but soon spread to Gauteng and some other parts of the country. Several retail outlets have been looted by the angry crowds and several razed to the ground. The unrest raged on for a week until the government intervened by deploying about 25,000 soldiers to quell the violence.
Allegations of foul play
According to The Independent, South Africa had not witnessed this level of violence since it attained democracy in 1994.
The pro-riots began after Zuma handed himself over to authorities. But South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, and a member of the South African government have alleged foul play after they insisted that the violence was instigated by some persons.
“The unrest was orchestrated, instigated and planned … It almost brought our country to its knees,” acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said.
“It is quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated – there were people who planned it and co-ordinated it,” Ramaphosa told BBC in a visit to Zuma’s hometown of KwaZulu-Natal where the violence most affected.
Ramaphosa, who maintained that the protests were aimed at destabilizing the democracy of the nation, told supporters that instigators of the violence have been identified and “we are going after them.”
So far, an estimated $1bn (£720m) worth of products have been stolen and at least 800 retail shops looted in Kwazulu-Natal alone.
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