Unrest rocks South Africa, over 70 killed; poverty exacerbated

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A fire engulfs Campsdrift Park, which houses Makro and China Mall, following protests that have widened into looting in Pietermaritzburg.

South Africa has been rocked by violence and looting for six consecutive days, with more than 70 people killed as grievances over the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma spiralled into the worst unrest in decades.

Following the jailing of the former leader, protests and mass looting have widened into an outpouring of anger over the inequality that remains 27 years after the end of apartheid.

Poverty has been exacerbated by severe social and economic restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

More than 1,200 people have been arrested in the lawlessness that has raged in poor areas of two provinces, where a community radio station was ransacked and forced off the air on Tuesday and some COVID-19 vaccination centres were closed, disrupting urgently needed inoculations.

Many of the deaths in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces occurred in chaotic stampedes as thousands of people stole food, electric appliances, liquor and clothing from stores, police said. The deployment of 2,500 soldiers to support the overwhelmed South Africa police has so far failed to stop the rampant looting.

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