More than 1,200 people have been arrested in the lawlessness that seethed South Africa in recent days. The country has been rocked by violence and looting for six consecutive days, with no fewer than 70 people killed as grievances over the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma spiraled into the worst unrest in the country’s history.
Following the jailing of the former leader, protests and mass looting have widened into an outpouring of anger over the inequality that remains 27 years after the end of apartheid.
Many of the deaths recorded in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces occurred in chaotic stampedes as thousands of people stole food, electric appliances, liquor, and clothing from stores.
Poverty has also been exasperated by severe social and economic restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. South Africa’s largest refinery SAPREF in the eastern part of the city of Durban has been closed as the country struggles with mass looting and the worst violence in years, according to an industry official.
SAPREF has the capacity of producing 180,000 barrels per day and accounts for about 35 percent of the refining capacity in Africa’s most industrialized economy, a net importer of petroleum products. This simply means the effect of the unrest will be strongly felt on the economy.
According to Tumelo Mosethlo a South African businessman based in Johannesburg, said jobs being lost as a result of the unrest will “exacerbate” the current dire economic situation.
“We don’t need this – to see people’s shops and businesses being gutted, yes, people are hungry today, but tomorrow there’ll be more unemployment, more pain, more suffering in a nation that is trying to recover and rebuild itself.”
In a statement by the African Union Commission’s Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemned “In the strongest terms” the widespread violence unfolding in South Africa while extending his condolences to the families of those who were killed.
Mahamat “calls for an urgent restoration of order, peace, and stability in the country in full respect of the rule of law. he stresses that failure to do so can have grave impacts not only in the country but the region as a whole,” he said.
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