The death toll from the violence and looting that have scourged South Africa for several days has risen to 32, with the announcement of 22 more deaths on Tuesday morning by the premier of Kwazulu-Natal Province (KZN, East).
Many of the deaths occurred in chaotic stampedes as scores of people looted food, electric appliances, liquor, and clothing from retail centers, KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala told the press on Tuesday morning.
“Yesterday’s events brought a lot of sadness. The number of people who have died in KwaZulu-Natal alone stands at 26. Many of them died from being trampled on during a stampede while people were looting items,” said Zikalala.
The deployment of 2,500 soldiers to support the South African police has not yet stopped the rampant looting although arrests are being made at some areas in Johannesburg, including Vosloorus in eastern Johannesburg.
Incidents broke out on Friday in Zulu country, where Mr Zuma is originally from and where he was imprisoned after being sentenced to 15 months for contempt of court.
Since then, the unrest has spread to the poorer areas of Johannesburg where Mr Zuma’s fate is largely irrelevant.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has appealed to South Africans to consider the consequences of their actions.
“The path of violence, of looting and anarchy leads only to more violence and devastation. As well as suffering, it leads to more poverty, more unemployment and more loss of innocent life. This is not who we are as South Africans, this is not us.” President Ramaphosa said.
“It is therefore a matter of vital importance that we restore calm and stability to all parts of the country without any delay.” he stressed.
The sporadic pro-Zuma protests broke out when he handed himself over last week and have since escalated into looting and arson. Police say at least 500 suspects have been arrested.
It is a chaos of “criminals and opportunistic individuals” at work, as a police spokesman put it, targeting shopping centres and shops.
They take away giant TVs, food, mattresses, fridges and anything else they can get their hands on, stepping over a brand new pink children’s bike or balancing a bathtub on their heads, according to AFP journalists at several sites.