PRETORIA, 14 July 2021 – No fewer than 72 people have been confirmed killed in the violence that has engulfed parts of South Africa since ex-president Jacob Zuma was jailed.
The 72 include ten people who were killed in a stampede during looting in a shopping center in the city of Soweto on Monday night.
Some 1,234 people have been arrested for their suspected role in the looting and riots, according to the South African police.
In video gone viral on social media, people are seen catching a baby thrown down from a building in Durban that was on fire after shops on the ground floor were looted and set ablaze.
Neighbors used ladders to help residents in the building to climb out of it into safety.
The South African military has been deployed to assist police get a handle on the riots which have been unfolding since last week.
More than 200 shopping malls across the country are said to have been looted, ransacked or partially set ablaze.
Restaurants and shops have been attacked and looted, with ATM machines broken into by the rioters.
In KwaZulu Natal, the looting extended to cattle rustling, according to the police and farmers victimized in the incidents.
The protests turned riots broke out shortly after former South African President Jacob Zuma handed himself over to the police to start serving a 15-month sentence.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called the riots the worst violence since the country ousted the apartheid regime.
Those who have found themselves in the center of the riots say the situation can only be compared to being on some war front, with bullets being fired in all directions.
Highways into major towns and villages where rioting is widespread have been barricaded with businesses either completed looted or forced to shut down, as mobs of mostly young people try to prevent law enforcement members from reaching them by setting up flaming tires to cut off traffic.
Authorities have ruled out declaring a state of emergency, fearing that such a move could further radicalize the situation leading to more violence.