Following the arrest of ex-President Jacob Zuma, the number of people killed in South Africa’s ensuing violence has risen to 276.As of July 13, at least 72 people had been killed as a result of the violence.
Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s former president, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after refusing to appear before a graft panel. Zuma, 79, was imprisoned for refusing to testify before an inquiry into allegations of corruption levelled against him during his presidency.
The violent protests, which began in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, spread to Gauteng province, with many shops looted, several people injured, and vehicles left burning on the roads.
In a media briefing on Wednesday, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, an acting minister in the president’s office, said that an investigation into the deaths caused by the unrest revealed that 276 people had died so far, with 168 of these deaths being investigated for murder.
To date, 234 deaths have been reported in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of the unrest. “The SA Police Service (SAPS) is investigating 151 murder cases, 83 inquest dockets have been opened, and 15 arrests have been made in connection with murder cases,” she said.
“A total of 42 deaths as a result of the unrest have been reported in Gauteng to date, and of these reported deaths, the SAPS is investigating 17 cases for murder, 25 cases are still at the inquest stage, and no arrests have been made as a result of the cases of murder.”
She stated that “stability” had returned to the two provinces that had been rocked by unprecedented violence, and that police were conducting “mopping-up operations to ensure opportunistic and copycat activities do not gain traction.”
The Gauteng province premier, David Makhura, accused criminals of hijacking the protest.
“It’s heartbreaking. Looting is not a viable option. We are losing people. This is something we cannot afford. We are appealing for calm and peace. This is destroying everything we’ve worked so hard to create. The looting, destruction, and shutting down are reversing the progress we had made in the township economy. “The looting must stop,” he had stated.