South Africa


Body count on the rise in ongoing violence in KZN and Gauteng

Body count on the rise in ongoing violence in KZN and Gauteng
People look on a body of one of two looters, near a place where they died in Lenasia South, Johannesburg, South Africa, 13 July 2021. Former South Africa President Zuma was arrested on 07 July, and sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. Protests by his supporters included shops being looted, burned cars and the blocking of city streets in the country. (Photo: EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK)

The ‘opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft’ described by President Cyril Ramaphosa, led to the deaths.

At least 45 people are believed to have died in the chaos and criminality that has gripped parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng in the days following the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma. This is according to numbers released by the premiers of the two provinces.

What started with the burning of trucks at Mooi River in KZN on Saturday has morphed into a Lernaean Hydra with sporadic, opportunistic acts of criminality spilling out across the province and Gauteng, helped along by a flaccid response from law enforcement.

On Tuesday morning, KZN premier Sihle Zikalala confirmed that 26 people –  including a 15-year-old boy – were killed in the fiery chaos engulfing parts of his province. “As a province, we’re going through a lot of pain and difficulty,” he said.

His counterpart in Gauteng, David Makhura, announced that at least 10 people have died in a stampede at a shopping mall in Meadowlands, Soweto.

Speaking outside the mall, Makhura said that “to the residents of Gauteng, the looting and the violence will impact everything”.

“These 10 people who lost their lives are family members who were out there, came out, some of them just joined into [sic] the looting. I want to say to the people of our province that we understand. Those who are unemployed, there are lots of young people who are unemployed, we understand that situation… but the looting is something we must stop because it is undermining every effort.” 

Makhura confirmed that more than 400 people have been arrested in the province. He added that “the number of those who have died [in the province] has jumped to 19”, which includes the 10 who died in the stampede. 

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS) announced on Monday that “Gauteng police are investigating the circumstances [of] the deaths of four people since the outbreak of violent protests in Gauteng”. 

The statement continued that “in KwaZulu-Natal there is a report of two people who have been killed, one in Inanda and the second one in Umbilo”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a sullen address to the nation on Monday evening, and with “a heavy heart”, confirmed the deaths of Nkosikhona Chiza, Ndumiso Shezi, Khaya Mkhize, Zethembe Ndwandwe, Lindani Bhengu and Lindokuhle Gumede in Gauteng, and Bhekani Ndlovu, Themba Mthembu, Aphiwe Gama and Cebo Dlamini in KZN. 

“Even as we know the high cost of this violence to property, to livelihoods and to businesses, the loss of human life is the greatest cost of all. As a nation our thoughts and prayers are with these families,” he said.

Despite emphatic calls for calm by the President and cabinet, as well as the planned deployment of 2,500 members of the South African National Defence Force, the anarchy has largely continued unabated, with more looting and violence reported. DM


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