Maverick Citizen

PHOTO ESSAY

One year ago, South Africa’s darkest eight days in 19 photos

One year ago, South Africa’s darkest eight days in 19 photos
Police try to control looting during protests in Durban on 12 July 2021. Former South Africa President Zuma was arrested on 7 July, and sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. Protests by his supporters have included shops being looted, burnt cars and the blocking of city streets. (Photo: EPA-EFE / STR)

It was eight days of unprecedented looting and arson, which started on the night of 8 July 2021. Once the smoke subsided, at least 281 dead bodies counted and the trauma settled, the South African fiscus was R50-billion poorer and the event was named as one of the contributory factors to the shrinking of the economy by 1.5%.

According to testimony given by KZN police chief Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) probe into the unrest, 281 people died in the province as a result of the unrest. The vast majority of these deaths were looters, crushed in stampedes while trying to steal goods, or killed by other looters while fighting over stolen goods. The unrest also spread to Gauteng.

Sporadic unrest began on the night of 8 July, just hours after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed in Estcourt for contempt of court. Prior to this, hundreds of Zuma’s supporters had gathered at his Nkandla homestead — in open defiance of Level 4 lockdown regulations — to “defend” him from being arrested. Even at that stage, many of the supporters in the crowd were armed and drunk, with some openly telling media that “blood will flow” if police tried to arrest Zuma. Similar threats were being made openly on social media.

The mass unrest that spiralled from that, and the inability of the country’s intelligence divisions to provide early warnings, or those warnings being ignored or disseminated on a factional basis, remains a talking point, with several probes under way to determine what exactly went wrong.

Residents flee from police following sporadic looting at Letshoho Mall in Katlehong, Johannesburg. (Photo:Felix Dlangamandla)

Members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) brief the media on confiscated goods in Durban CBD on July 133, 2021 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Looters packing their BMW with furniture in Springfield on July 13, 2021 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)

Burnt out trucks on the road in Sea Cow Lake area on July 12, 2021, in Durban, South Africa. It is reported that a considerable number of shops and businesses were looted over the weekend following a wave of violent protests after the incarceration of former South African President Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Soldiers survey vandalised ATMs at Diepkloof Square, Soweto, Johannesburg, 13 July 2021. Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) were deployed around Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal after violent protests erupted resulting in the deaths of several people and looting of shops. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Soldiers detain two youth suspected of looting at Diepkloof Square, Soweto, Johannesburg, 13 July 2021. Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) were deployed around Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal after violent protests erupted resulting in the deaths of several people and the looting of shops.
(Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Smoke rises from a Makro building set on fire overnight in Umhlanga, north of Durban, on July 13, 2021 as several shops, businesses and infrastructure are damaged in the city. (Photo: RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP)

A business premises ablaze during widespread looting and protests in Durban, 12 July 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / STR)

A man calms a woman who was shot with a rubber bullet as looting continues at Mobeni, Durban, South Africa, 15 July 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / STR)

A taxi driver shoots his 9mm pistol into the air to chase nearby looters away from a mall after looting continued in the area, Johannesburg, South Africa, 14 July 2021. Local taxi bosses and drivers have started to enforce their own law after police forces could not stop the ongoing looting of the mall in the East of Johannesburg. (Photo: EPA-EFE / KIM LUDBROOK)

Foreign national shop owner holds a machete after staying up all night to protect his business during widespread looting and protests in Durban, South Africa, 12 July 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / STR)

Police Minister, General Bheki Cele visits Sea Cow Lake community to hear their grievances and ensure that calm has been restored in areas affected by widespread looting of businesses on July 18, 2021 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images /Darren Stewart)

Forensic members and police attending to a dead body following sporadic looting at Letshoho mall in Katlehong. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Looting in Ndofaya on July 12, 2021 in Soweto, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

Residents flee from police following sporadic looting at Letshoho mall in Katlehong. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Police arrested some of the looters following sporadic looting at Letshoho mall in Katlehong. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Residents flee from police following sporadic looting at Letshoho mall in Katlehong. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

People block off roads in Jeppestown, Johannesburg July 11, 2021 as part of ongoing looting and anarchy in the aftermath of former president Jacob Zuma being arrested.
(Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Looters in Spine Road behind Pavilion Mall on July 12, 2021 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

Make your taxes work for you

Donate to Daily Maverick’s non-profit arm, the Scorpio Investigative Unit, by 29 February 2024 and you’ll qualify for a tax break.

We issue Section 18A tax certificates for all donations made to Daily Maverick. These can be presented to SARS for tax relief.

Make your donation today

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider
Otsile Nkadimeng - photo by Thom Pierce

A new community Actionist every week.

Meet the South Africans making a difference. Get Maverick Citizen in your inbox.