72 dead in unrest; death toll expected to rise
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Johannesburg - The death toll in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal has risen to 72, and the numbers are expected to increase over the next few days.
It is believed that most of the people died during the stampedes as people rushed to loot stores.
SAPS Major General Mathapelo Peters confirmed that 1 234 suspects had been arrested.
“With the recent deployment of the SA Defence Force members and the augmentation of law enforcement officers by the recalling of SAPS members from leave and rest days, more boots have been on the ground to police the rampant elements of criminality perpetuated by the looting of businesses and destruction of property. The number of arrests have risen to 1 234 (549 in KZN and 683 in Gauteng),” said Peters.
Politicians, police, civil organisations and people from all walks of life have condemned the looting, describing it as criminal activity and not a protest to campaign for former president Jacob Zuma to be released.
Zuma is serving a 15 month prison sentence at the Estcourt Correctional Centre, for contempt of court.
Cope has called on the police to arrest all the so-called RET Forces who have been making inflammatory statements and inciting people by repeatedly saying that before Zuma was sent to jail, there would be instability in the country.
Cope said some continued inciting people
“This group must be apprehended and charged with economic sabotage for the millions of rand damage caused by looting of businesses and burning of trucks and properties and the loss of 72 lives,” Cope national spokesperson Dennis Bloem said.
“We do want to acknowledge that the whole Free Zuma protests was hijacked by a criminal element. As things stands now, criminals are in control of the looting,” he said.
Bloem said it was unacceptable that the country was burning and people had lost their lives yet the instigators were roaming the streets as if untouchable.
“Cope calls upon President Cyril Ramaphosa and the minister of police, Bheki Cele, to be decisive and act in the best interest of the country,” Bloem said.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party had laid incitement charges against Zuma’s three children and EFF leader Julius Malema. The DA has accused the four of inciting violence on social media that led to widespread unrest in the two volition provinces of Gauteng and KZN.