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South Africa burns: Ex-Prez Zuma's arrest sparks violence

Observers believe the violence in South Africa, started against the arrest of former President Zuma, has been hijacked by criminals, and it is no more fuelled by political issues like tribal tension, unemployment and poverty. Arson, rioting and looting are widespread, unseen in recent times, leading to food shortage. KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are the worst hit.

Fake social media images of protesters opening the enclosures of KwaZulu-Natal wildlife reserve and letting out the lions into the open struck terror among the public.

JOHANNESBURG, July 17: The unrest in South Africa over the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma accused of corruption has claimed over 200 lives till Saturday. Arson, rioting and looting which started last week continued unbated on the streets in most cities despite the deployment of 25,000 troops to quel the violence that is raging on a scale not seen in decades. Two thousand five hundred people have been arrested.

An estimated $1bn (£720m) worth of stock was stolen in KwaZulu-Natal alone with at least 800 retail shops looted, BBC quoted the mayor of the province. KwaZulu-Natal is the native place of Zuma where the rioting started. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited the place, said the violence was pre- planned, describing it as an assault on democracy.

There is widespread food shortage as the looting and arson continued even as fake social media images ranging from Zuma in jail to protesters opening the KwaZulu-Natal wildlife reserve and letting out the lions into the open, fuelled the violence.

KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng near Johannesburg were the worst hit.

Zuma was sentenced to a 15-month jail term on June 29 for contempt of court for not deposing in the corruption cases against him. On July 7 he surrendered and was sent to jail. The unrest began the day after he was sent to the prison to serve the term.

Meanwhile, observers say the lead of violence has been hijacked by criminals, taking advantage of the chaos, and it is no more political like tribal tension and unemployment. Others see it as a consequence of bad politics, unemployment, poverty and the pandemic. Half the population live below poverty line and nearly a third are unemployed, the pandemic compounding the miseries.

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