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South Africa violence continues as death toll reaches 45

South Africa has seen its worst violence in years as riots continue across the nation, while the death toll reaches 45.

The violence comes in retaliation to the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma, who handed himself over to custody earlier this month.

The 79-year-old was given a 15-month prison term for resisting an instruction in February to provide evidence at an inquiry into corruption over his 9 years in power from 2009 to 2018.

South Africa riots
Image: Kierran Allen photography

Widespread riots have seen crowds colliding with police as shopping malls get burned and ransacked, with killings coming in waves in the dozens.

It’s a truly catastrophic sight, and is considered by many to be South Africa’s worst violence in years.

Turmoil in the country is not uncommon, however. Severe inequality has persisted throughout the nation for some 27 years following the fall of the apartheid in 1994.

This poverty has been drastically exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused severe social and economic difficulties surrounding attempts to slow the spread of the world-changing disease.

Violence and looting following the arrest has become widespread in Zuma’s home in the KwaZulu-Natal province to the Gauteng province, home to the country’s biggest city Johannesburg.

Security officials are now working to halt the spread of the riots. Authorities have deployed soldiers onto the streets to contain the violence before shortly stopping to declare a state of emergency.

Up to 45 people have now been killed as a result of the riots. This includes 19 in Gauteng and 26 in KwaZulu-Natal. A further 757 people have since been arrested.

The incidents have shocked South Africans and the world alike. Police Minister Bheki Cele expressed his disappointment over the riots in a news conference earlier this week.

“No amount of unhappiness or personal circumstances from our people gives the right to anyone to loot, vandalise and do as they please to break the law.”