The South African Medical Research Council’s report on weekly deaths in South Africa revealed that the number of unnatural deaths increased to the level of the predicted number between July 11 and 17 and dropped to below the lower prediction bound between July 18 and 24. File Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
The South African Medical Research Council’s report on weekly deaths in South Africa revealed that the number of unnatural deaths increased to the level of the predicted number between July 11 and 17 and dropped to below the lower prediction bound between July 18 and 24. File Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

Increase in unnatural deaths during recent civil unrest

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Aug 5, 2021

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DURBAN - COINCIDING with the civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and taxi violence in the Western Cape, the number of unnatural deaths increased to the level of the predicted number between July 11 and 17 and dropped to below the lower prediction bound between July 18 and 24.

That was according to the SA Medical Research Council’s report on weekly deaths in South Africa between July 18 and 24.

More than 250 people were killed in KZN three weeks ago during days of unrest, and nearly 80 were killed in Gauteng.

Earlier this week, Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that 36 people were killed in Phoenix; 30 of them were shot dead, two were burned to death, one was stabbed, another was run over with a vehicle, and two others succumbed to assault injuries. In addition, the police seized 112 illegal firearms during operations in Phoenix.

Last week, KZN premier Sihle Zikalala revealed that 13 people were killed in Chatsworth while four were killed in Northdale, Pietermaritzburg.

The report said the weekly number of deaths from unnatural causes had continued to track close to the predicted numbers since the end of January 2021, with the month-end peaks being higher, and the February and March month ends reaching the upper prediction bound.

“During weeks 26 and 27, unnatural deaths dropped below their lower prediction bound, coinciding with the change of lockdown to adjusted level 4 with re-banning of alcohol sales and extension of curfew,” read the report.

“However, coinciding with the unrest in KZN and Gauteng, and continued taxi violence in the Western Cape, the number of unnatural deaths increased to the level of the predicted number during week 28 (July 11-17, 2021) and dropped to below the lower prediction bound during week 29 (July 18-24).”

In comparison, it was unclear whether unrest experienced in KZN and Gauteng during week 28 affected the registration of deaths, in which case, the numbers of deaths reported for week 28 may understate the actual numbers of deaths.

The report read that KwaZulu-Natal had experienced a slight increase in the number of natural deaths in week 27 (July 4-10), while eThekwini experienced a drop, suggesting that there may have been a slow-down in the processing of death registrations, particularly in Durban.

The provinces with the highest cumulative numbers of excess deaths at the end of week 28 are, in order, Gauteng, KZN and Eastern Cape.

Daily News

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