'We are on the verge of eating each other': South Africa vigilantes

‘We are on the verge of eating each other’: Vigilantes say they are ‘prepared to die’ defending shops as South Africa sends 25,000 soldiers to stop looters

  • Vigilantes have formed groups to protect shops from looting and said they are ‘prepared to die’ while doing so
  • At least 72 have died during the chaos with police forces totally absent or seeming to take part in some cases
  • Duduzane Zuma, 37, called on Wednesday for his father Jacob to be freed and the Covid lockdown to end
  • He warned that with troops deployed SA is ‘just one massacre away from a complete spiralling out of control’
  • He blamed the looting on lockdown-fuelled inequity, saying that many of these looters were ‘middle-class’
  • Raging unrest first erupted last Friday after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed over corruption charges 
  • But the wanton lawlessness has lost any political ties, with thousands looting their local malls and warehouses
  • Law-abiding citizens formed queues outside supermarkets amid fears of food shortages caused by the riots
  • The national health service warned it was also running low on oxygen and drugs due to chaos on the streets
  • Body of boy, 13, discovered today outside a mall that vigilante taxi drivers have been protecting from looting  

Vigilantes have said they are ‘prepared to die’ defending shops from looters as South Africa’s lawlessness entered its seventh consecutive day and the government mobilised 25,000 troops to quell the chaos. 

Armed locals started defending shops after thousands were ransacked in riots across the country after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed on Friday for failing to appear in court on corruption charges.  

At least 72 have so far died during the chaos, with police forces totally absent or in some cases, officers participating in looting. 

Vigilantes in Soweto have rallied around Maponya Mall, one of the few shopping centres still standing after 200 others were ransacked, defending it from looters in an effort to end the unrest.   

Nhlanhla Lux, 33, described the mall as Soweto’s ‘last elephant’ and vowed not to let it fall to rioters.

‘We are on the verge of eating each other’, he told the Financial Times. ‘I for one am prepared to die… we can’t sit back while the township economy dilapidates further’. 

Vigilantes have said they are ‘prepared to die’ defending shops from looters amid protests against riots in Soweto as South Africa’s lawlessness entered its seventh consecutive day

Vigilantes in Soweto have rallied around Maponya Mall, one of the few shopping centres still standing after 200 others were ransacked, defending it from looters in an effort to end the unrest. Pictured: A self-armed local looks for looters inside a supermarket in Durban

The government has requested around 25,000 troops, including army reserves, to tackle the emergency – 10 times the number that it initially deployed

It comes as the government said it would call out around 25,000 troops, including army reserves, to tackle the emergency – 10 times the number that it initially deployed. 

‘All reserve members are to report for duty at first light tomorrow morning 15 July 2021 at their respective units,’ army chief Lieutenant-General Lawrence Mbatha said in orders issued overnight as the unrest entered its sixth day. 

Looting continued on Thursday in KwaZulu-Natal province, but the situation was quieter in Johannesburg, where volunteers in the city’s townships took part in cleanup operations.

At a cleanup at the Jabulani shopping centre in Soweto, community leader Musa Mbele-Radebe, 30, told AFP, ‘The use of the army is quite good, because our people are quite scared of the army compared to the police.

‘It only took four soldiers to control a situation of a thousand [people] that was gathering in this mall.’   

As the crisis escalated, the armed forces on Monday said they were sending 2,500 troops to help restore order.

The figure was criticised by many as paltry, given that 70,000 soldiers were deployed last year to enforce a strict coronavirus lockdown.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told parliament she had submitted a request for ‘plus or minus’ 25,000 troops.

The request came after President Cyril Ramaphosa told leaders of political parties that parts of the country ‘may soon be running short of basic provisions’ following disruption to supply chains.

‘The next big crisis will be the threat to food security in KZN, along with the supply of medication and fuel,’ said John Steenhuisen, head of the opposition Demcratic Alliance.

‘Protecting these supply chains must be a priority of the… deployment.’ 

Volunteers across Johannesburg helped clean up the streets after days of looting on Thursday. Pictured: A man wearing a jacket reading ‘no looting’ looks on as residents clear up

Looting continued on Thursday in KwaZulu-Natal province, but the situation was quieter in Johannesburg, where volunteers in the city’s townships took part in cleanup operations

Volunteers helped the clear up efforts at Soweto’s Diepkloof mall as vigilantes rallied to defend Maponya mall – one of the few not looted in the recent chaos

Residents clean up the streets and help local businesses after days of looting in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, this week

But in some places, looting continued into Thursday. Pictured: people make off with a trolley of bags of rice in Durban

Jacob Zuma’s son urged looters to ‘do so responsibly’ and called for his father to be freed after South Africa’s lawlessness on Wednesday, the sixth consecutive day of chaos, amid fears of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ with food, fuel and Covid medicine shortages.       

Duduzane Zuma took to Instagram to call for his father to be freed and the Covid lockdown to end, claiming that with troops now deployed the country was ‘just one massacre away from a complete spiralling out of control.’

‘For the people that are protesting and looting, please do so carefully and please do so responsibly. Because you cannot hold people responsible for defending what they love,’ Zuma said. 

The 37-year-old, who has his own ambitions to run the country, said that ‘finger pointing’ was not going to help because the government must ‘feed the poor people that are looting’ as he blamed lockdown-fuelled economic inequity for the chaos.

Duduzane Zuma took to Instagram to call for his father to be freed and the Covid lockdown to end, claiming that with troops now deployed the country was ‘just one massacre away from a complete spiralling out of control’

But the raging unrest has lost any sense of its loose political origins, descending into wanton lawlessness, including gang shoot-outs in the streets, people queuing up with cars to loot warehouses and malls, and wealthy Indian and white South Africans forced to take up arms to protect their homes. 

A 13-year-old boy was shot dead at a mall outside Johannesburg on Wednesday during skirmishes between vigilante taxi drivers and looters.

And two police officers were caught on camera with their cars packed full of allegedly looted household supplies and even a flat-screen television. 

Now President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to call up more soldiers after deploying 2,500 troops to bolster overrun police forces in in Johannesburg and Durban. But rioting has also spread to Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Soweto.    

Footage showed people accosting a man wearing a police jacket beside a hatchback filled with household supplies, including bread, milk and cooking oil

The man’s car is seen filled with household supplies including bottles of cooking oil and packs of toilet paper 

A second video from the same woman showed another purported officer in plain clothes trying to hide his face from the camera after he was hauled out of his car by locals. His vehicle was laden with allegedly looted products, including a flat-screen television.

Residents surround the body of a 13-year-old boy who was shot during a skirmish between looters and taxi drivers who have been defending a mall in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg.

Looters clamber onto a lorry after breaking open the back doors to steal its goods. Rubbish and boxes are strewn across the road in Durban on Wednesday

Queues of cars are parked ready to be loaded with stolen goods as hordes of looters flow in and out of a warehouse in Durban

A traffic jam surrounds warehouses in Durban targeted by looters on Wednesday

Burning lorries at a goods distribution hub on the outskirts of Durban – one of the country’s major ports of entry for fuel, household goods and medicines 

Police officers detain people after violence erupted following the jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma, in Cato Ridge, on Wednesday

Looters gather outside a burning warehouse in Durban on Wednesday

A policeman fires a warning shot into the air amid looting outside the Chris Hanni Mall in Vosloorus on Wednesday

People queue to buy bread from trucks who provide food as shops and mall are looted and closed for business in Soweto on Wednesday

Residents queue at a supermarket amid fears of food shortages in Hillcrest, in KwaZulu-Natal province 

Residents queue at a supermarket which has been closed after violence erupted in KwaZulu-Natal province

A member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) detains an alleged looter outside the Chris Hanni Mall in Vosloorus, on Wednesday

Looters outside a torched warehouse in the Hillcrest area of Kwa-Zulu Natal province which has been badly hit by the riots

President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed 2,500 soldiers to help overrun police forces in Johannesburg and southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal. Rioting has also spread to Soweto, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape

On Wednesday, Misuzulu Zulu (left), the king of South Africa’s Zulu community – the country’s largest ethnic group –  appealed for an end to the unrest [File photo]

Industry bosses, including fuel retailers and farmers, are warning of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ as the chaos means that, as well as the goods being stolen, major port cities like Durban are under siege and the country’s infrastructure is blockaded. 

Rape charge, ‘Guptagate’ and an arms deal: The scandals that led to the downfall of Jacob Zuma 

Jacob Zuma has been a dominant force in South African politics for decades. 

A leader in the resistance to white minority rule, Zuma has been a key figure in the ruling ANC party since the end of apartheid.

The 79-year-old served as the country’s deputy president, before eventually becoming president in 2007.

He held the post for 10 years before his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa took over. 

His long political career has been beset by scandals, including a rape charge and multiple allegations of corruption, with his ability to weather political storms seeing him nicknamed the ‘Teflon president’.

In July 2021, he was jailed for failing to cooperate with a corruption probe in a move which prompted mass unrest sparked by his supporters.

The corruption investigation centres on Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas, three billionaire Indian-born businessmen – in a scandal that has been dubbed ‘Guptagate’.

Zuma is accused of allowing the brothers – Atul, Ajay and Rajesh – to plunder state resources and peddle influence over government policy during his time as president. 

On July 9, Zuma handed himself over to police to begin a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court after defying a court ruling to give evidence before the inquiry.

Zuma has decried the investigation as a ‘witch hunt’ led by Ramaphosa.

The former president is also facing a separate trial over a £3billion arms deal signed in 1999 when he was deputy president. 

Zuma allegedly accepted bribes from international arms manufacturers to influence the choice of weaponry. 

But these scandals are only the most recent in a long list.  

Prior to Guptagate, Zuma was engulfed in a furore over so-called security upgrades to his rural Nkandla residence in KwaZulu-Natal province.

The tax-payer-funded work, cost $24million (£17.31million) and included a swimming pool – which was described as a fire-fighting facility – an amphitheatre and a visitors’ centre.

South Africa’s graft watchdog in 2014 found that Zuma ‘benefitted unduly’ from the work. 

In 2006, the year before he became president, Ramaphosa was put on trial for rape. 

He claimed he had had consensual sex with a 31-year-old family friend and was acquitted.

Beyond the alleged rape, South Africans were dismayed that Zuma, who headed the country’s National AIDS Council at the time, admitted to having unprotected sex with his accuser, who was HIV-positive.

He caused further anger by telling the court he had showered afterwards to avoid contracting HIV – This method does not prevent the spread of HIV and was a commonly repeated myth in South Africa at the time.

More than a decade later, he is still mocked in newspaper cartoons, often being depicted with a shower nozzle sprouting from his head. 

Despite the slew of scandals, Zuma continues to enjoy support both among poor South Africans and the ANC .  

Law-abiding citizens were pictured this morning lining up outside a supermarket in Hillcrest in KwaZulu-Natal, trying to stock up amid fears of food shortages caused by the pillaging.

The National Hospital Network, representing 241 public hospitals, has warned it is running out of oxygen and drugs for coronavirus patients – most of which are imported from Durban.    

On Wednesday, the king of South Africa’s Zulu community, the country’s largest ethnic group, appealed for an end to the unrest.

‘I call for peace,’ Misuzulu Zulu said in a maiden speech on state television. 

The violence ‘has brought great shame’ on the Zulu people,’ he said. 

‘This chaos is destroying the economy, and it is the poor who will suffer the most,’ he warned.  

The 46-year-old, who succeeded his father Goodwill Zwelithini who died in March, was flanked by the prime minister of the Zulu nation, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Speaking alternately in Zulu and English, the king said ‘my father’s people are committing suicide’ as he called for restraint and peace. 

‘What is even more saddening is that so many of those who are drawn to this lawlessness and criminality are members of the Zulu nation,’ the king said.

‘It has brought great shame upon us all… as fingers are pointed at my father’s people,’ he said speaking in English.

Zulus account for more than 11 million of South Africa’s 59 million people.

The monarch wields moral influence over them, but does not have executive power.

A 13-year-old boy named locally as Vuso Dlamini was shot dead during a skirmish between taxi drivers and a looting mob attempting to burn down a mall in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg.

Conflicting reports said the teen was 13 or 14-years-old. Earlier the body of another looter was discovered behind the mall.  

A taxi drivers’ union has been defending the mall in the absence of police. One of the cab drivers told Times Live: ‘We shop and work here. This is our livelihood. No-one messes with that.’ 

One looter said she was doing it purely because of the economic impacts of the lockdown. Asked by a local TV reporter if she was stealing because of Zuma’s imprisonment, she said: ‘No, we’re looting because we have no food, we have no jobs because of the Covid lockdown.’ 

Last year, the country’s GDP slumped by 7 per cent – the largest decline in more than 40 years. The unemployment rate stands at 32.6 per cent, while youth unemployment has soared to a staggering 75 per cent. 

People living in neighbourhoods plagued by the rioting said they were terrified and couldn’t sleep at night because of the constant gunfire.

One woman, preparing to make a 20-minute drive across Durban to visit her family, told the BBC she was worried she might not be able to get there because of blockades which have popped up along the main highways.

‘I am so scared,’ the woman, who asked not to be named, told the broadcaster.

‘It literally feels like being in a war zone with gunshots, fires and smoke going up everywhere for the last two days.’ 

Another resident, who also refused to be named, told the BBC that they are having to just sit back and watch the looting, hoping that the perpetrators don’t turn on their homes.

‘We are on fire,’ the man said. ”We’ve gone to a place where we are going to watch them stealing, we are not interfering with them – don’t harm us.’ 

The British and Irish Lions rugby team, which is touring the country, has been assured of their safety amid the deteriorating security situation. 

The Lions are scheduled to play three matches in Cape Town, starting against South Africa A on Wednesday, before returning to Johannesburg for two Tests that will complete the tour.

Lions coach Warren Gatland told an online news conference last week that he believed the second and third Tests would be switched to Cape Town. 

The king of South Africa’s Zulu community, the country’s largest ethnic group, called for an end to the unrest today.

‘I call for peace,’ Misuzulu Zulu said on state television. The violence ‘has brought great shame on all of us,’ he said, adding ‘this chaos is destroying the economy, and it is the poor who will suffer the most.’ 

Looting has hit supply chains and transport links in the Johannesburg region and the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, sending a shockwave to goods and services around the country.  

In the port city of Durban, people started queueing outside food stores and at fuel stations as early as 4am – when the Covid night curfew ends.

The night before, the country’s largest refinery, Sapref, declared ‘force majeure’ – an emergency beyond its control – and shuttered its plant in Durban, shutting down a third of South Africa’s fuel supply.

The firm said the refinery was ‘temporarily shut down… due to the civil unrest and disruption of supply routes in and out of KwaZulu-Natal.’

Some fuel retailers have begun rationing while others are starting to run dry.

A burning warehouse is seen beside roads littered with rubbish from the looting in Durban on Wednesday

A road beside a looted warehouse in Durban on Wednesday is strewn with rubbish as lorries lie in the road after being ransacked

Footage from social media shows looters siphoning petrol out of the underground tanks beneath a ransacked BP garage outside Durban

A police officer holds a pistol as the country deploys army to quell unrest in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg

A burning warehouse in Durban on Wednesday not far from a leafy neighbourhood whose residents are terrified of the growing crisis

Suspected looters sprint through fields as they try to escape from police and army officers in Cato Ridge, in the KwaZulu-Natal province, on Wednesday

People loot near a burning warehouse on Wednesday morning in the Hillcrest area of KwaZulu-Natal province

Soldiers and police detain a man as they attempt to retrieve looted goods in Alexandra on Wednesday

An soldier stands guard as protesters gather in a field in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg, on Wednesday

Police officers detain a driver who has several Samsung fridges loaded onto the back of his truck in Cato Ridge on Wednesday

A police officer throws flour of a suspected looter before arresting him outside the Chris Hanni Mall in Vosloorus on Wednesday

Looters pull few items they took from what was left to grab in a vandalised mall in Vosloorus, on Wednesday

South African National defence Force (SANDF) soldiers stand guard in front of the Maponya mall in Soweto on Wednesday

Locals use brooms while volunteering to clean the Diepkloof Square following looting and vandalism in Soweto on Wednesday morning

People queue up outside a supermarket in Hillcrest amid fears that food supplies are running low

People queue up outside a Shell garage amid fears of fuel shortages 

Residents of Soweto buy bread from a truck as shops and malls in Soweto are looted and closed for business on Wednesday

Residents buy loaves of bread from a truck in Soweto on Wednesday morning

How former president criminal Jacob Zuma’s jail sentence sparked chaos

The unrest started in Jacob Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday after the former president was jailed.

The ‘garden province’, whose largest city is Durban, still has strong support for Zuma who remains popular among many poor South Africans, especially grassroots members of the ANC, who see him as a defender of the disadvantaged.

The violence soon spread to Gauteng, the economic hub of South Africa that contains Johannesburg and the deprived township of Soweto, its name an abbreviation of South Western Townships.

The country is in a deep economic malaise, with cripplingly high levels of unemployment exacerbated by the pandemic.

Those hardest hit have been South Africa’s poor and black populations.

Soweto, where Nelson Mandela lived for 16 years, is made up of 99 per cent black people, whose most common first language is Zulu.

The township was originally created to house black Africans who worked in white factories and houses, and the few businesses allowed in the area were heavily controlled by the apartheid state.

Many in Soweto are still too poor to pay for electricity with more than half of people under 35 unemployed.

Similarly, KwaZulu-Natal is a predominantly black and Zulu population with an estimated 3.2million people living in poverty out of a population of 10.5million.

Nationally, the pandemic has worsened conditions with record levels of unemployment at 32.6 per cent, rising to 46.3 per cent among young people.

Zuma’s popularity among poor black Africans combined with their extreme poverty has proved a tinderbox for the country’s latest violence. 

‘It’s inevitable that we will have fuel shortages in the next couple of days or weeks,’ Layton Beard, spokesman for South Africa’s Automobile Association, said.

Outside a branch of a popular supermarket in northern Durban’s Eastman region, around 400 people started lining up to buy food, hours before the shop was due to open.

‘With these lootings, it’s an inflection point… this has now seriously compromised our energy security and food security,’ warned Bonang Mohale, chancellor of the University of the Free State and a professor of business and economics studies.

‘It has created disruption to the coronavirus vaccine rollout and deliveries to hospitals,’ he added.

Christo van der Rheede, executive director of the largest farmers’ organisation, AgriSA, said producers were struggling to get their crops to market because the logistical network was in a ‘shambles’.

‘We need the restoration of law and order as soon as possible, because we are going to have a massive humanitarian crisis,’ van der Rheede said. 

The police last night confirmed that the number of people who have lost their lives in the looting so far has risen to 72. 

Most of the deaths ‘relate to stampedes that occurred during incidents of looting of shops’, the police statement said. 

Others were linked to shootings and explosions of bank ATMs.

The number of arrests has risen to 1,234, although many thousands have been involved in the ransacking sprees. 

Earlier TV footage showed dozens of women, some wearing their dressing gowns, men and even children strolling into a butcher in Soweto, coming out balancing heavy boxes of frozen meat on their heads or shoulders. 

Police showed up three hours later and fired rubber bullets. Soldiers eventually followed.

In Alexandra township north of Johannesburg, hundreds of people streamed in and out of a shopping mall, freely grabbing groceries. 

Looters who spoke to AFP said they had got caught up in the rush, or saw the chance to ease a life blighted by poverty. 

‘I’m really not concerned about Zuma. He is a corrupt old man that deserves to be in jail,’ said a 30-year-old man who works at a car wash.

He admitted to ‘taking things from the shop for my mum’ – stainless-steel pots, meat and groceries.

In Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal’s capital, people hauled boxed refrigerators through bushes to a long line of cars that were parked along a highway.

In Durban, aerial footage showed hundreds of people looting a large shopping centre and carting off huge boxes of goods.

A woman was seen throwing her baby from the first floor of a building to save her from fire after shops below her apartment were set on fire. The child safely landed with a group of people on the street.  

In his nationwide address Monday night, Ramaphosa lashed ‘opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft’. 

‘The path of violence, of looting and anarchy, leads only to more violence and devastation,’ Ramaphosa said.

The chair of the African Union Commission condemned ‘the surge of violence that has resulted in the deaths of civilians and appalling scenes of the looting’, calling ‘for an urgent restoration of order’. 

Video footage shared to Twitter on Monday showed people resorting to shooting at looters in a bid to protect their businesses as looting continues in the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces 

In the clip, a line of shop and property owners fired on the rioters from afar before running closer and continuing to shoot, while the crowds protected themselves behind road signs and ran off the road amid the chaos

A member of the South African Police Services (SAPS) fired rubber bullets at rioters looting the Jabulani Mall in Soweto on Monday 

South African police force suspected looters to lie down after apprehending them in Soweto on Tuesday

Suspected looters who surrendered to armed private security officers are marched outside in a flooded mall in Vosloorus on Tuesday

Afire engulfs Campsdrift Park, which houses Makro and China Mall in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday

The deployment of 2,500 soldiers to support the South African police has so far failed to stop the rampant looting, although arrests were being made in some areas in Johannesburg, including Vosloorus in the eastern part of the city

A mother has described the terrifying moment she was forced to throw her toddler from their burning building after looters and rioters set fire to the shops below.

Naledi Manyoni, 26, lives on the 16th floor of the Durban building with her two-year-old daughter Melokuhle and her fiancé. 

After smelling smoke on Tuesday, Manyoni made the decision to throw Melokuhle into the arms of strangers on the street to save her from the blaze.   

Naledi Manyoni (right in black) dangles her two-year-old daughter Melokuhle before dropping her into the arms of strangers 

‘They kept screaming ‘throw her’ and I was, they kept helping me,’ Manyoni said.

‘A woman came close but I didn’t trust her cause she was alone so they started coming together until there were a lot and I threw her and I was afraid. After throwing her I held my head in shock but they caught her.’

‘What was important was for my daughter was to be out of that situation because my grandmother did warn me about this situation. So all I wanted was for her to be saved, I couldn’t escape alone and leave her behind.’

Manyoni said her young daughter has been ‘scared and restless at night’ following the frightening ordeal.  

The largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, announced Tuesday it would file criminal charges against Zuma’s children and the leader of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema. 

In a statement, the party accused them of using ‘social media to express comments which appear to encourage and incite the violence and looting.’

Wielding sticks, guns and metal rods, minibus owners on Wednesday patrolled a ransacked shopping mall in Johannesburg to stop the looting of stores destroyed by mobs, adding further violence to the unrest in South Africa.

Concerned about loss of income from shoppers and staff no longer travelling to the mall, dozens of local commuter minibus operators decided to take matters into their own hands and crack down on looters, undeterred by security forces.

They trudged through the debris littering Chris Hani mall, near the southeastern Johannesburg township of Vosloorus, dragging suspected looters outside for a violent beating.

Screams and gunshots filled the air as the group clamped down on their victims with sticks, clubs and whips.

One man who tried to escape was hit over the head with a glass bottle and dragged back, blood streaming down his neck.

Police and soldiers stood out of sight, near the main entrance to a large car park, where they would later take in captives brought over with their hands tied.

‘The malls are being looted, people are not working… so now we are stuck,’ said taxi official Abel, who did not wish to give his full name.

Township residents had meanwhile gathered in a nearby cemetery around the body of a teenage boy, allegedly shot by the same group earlier in the day. 

Taxi associations are notoriously violent in South Africa, where they oversee an informal public transport network served by trademark white minibuses.

Their involvement has raised concern within the government, which has warned against mob justice compounding some of the worst unrest South Africa has seen in years.

‘If we have everybody taking up arms we stand a risk of having unruly elements also hijacking the noble efforts of the community,’ acting presidency minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told a news briefing on Wednesday, urging citizens to work with law enforcement agencies.

Looting swiftly followed protests over the jailing of South Africa’s graft-accused former president Jacob Zuma, who is viewed by many as a defender of the poor.

Unrest has raged for almost a week, with impacts on supply chains and transport links that could lead to fuel and food shortages.

At least 72 people have died and more than 1,200 have been arrested, according to official figures.

While mobs caused the initial damage, many of the looters are now township dwellers struggling to feed their families – hardships made worse by the pandemic.

As police cars and forensic teams drove away, some onlookers tentatively inched back towards the mall.

Taxi owners picked up their weapons and went back inside for another round.

Once dubbed the ‘Teflon president’, Zuma was handed the jail term on June 29 by the Constitutional Court for bucking an order to appear before a commission probing the graft that proliferated under his administration.

He started serving the term on Thursday after handing himself in to authorities.

He is seeking to have the ruling set aside. 

Zuma, 79, is a former anti-apartheid fighter who spent 10 years in jail in the notorious Robben Island jail off Cape Town.

He rose in democratic South Africa to vice president and then president, before being ousted by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 2018 as scandals proliferated.

But he remains popular among many poor South Africans, especially grassroots members of the ANC, who portray him as a defender of the disadvantaged.

South Africa is deep in an economic malaise, with cripplingly high levels of unemployment. Economic activity had already been badly affected by restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

A woman was filed dropping her toddler from the roof of a burning shopping mall in Durban after looters ransacked the shops below and then set fire to them, threatening the apartment block above

A crowd in the street could be seen catching the child and taking them to safety, leaving the mother to find another route out of the burning building

Empty shelves at a shopping mall in Durban, which has fallen victim to looting during the chaos following Zuma’s arrest

South Africa entered the fifth day of rioting on Tuesday with the death toll rising to 32 as police and the military struggle to quell the looting (pictured: Jabulani Mall in Soweto) and violence in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces

A police officer stands on the arm of a suspected looter while another man wields an iron bar during the violent scenes in Johannesburg on Tuesday

Angry locals launch rocks at police officers near the entrance of a looted shopping mall after the fifth day of ransacking in South Africa

A woman wrapped in a blanket in the colours of the ruling ANC party walks past the bodies of two young men who were fleeing the police when they fell into a sewage pit and drowned in Vlakfontein, Johannesburg on Tuesday

Metro police officers fire at protesters at Jabulani mall as the country deploys army to quell unrest linked to jailing of former President Jacob Zuma in Soweto on Monday

Police take to the streets in the Gauteng region on Tuesday

A South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier along with South African Police service officers detain suspected looters at the Jabulani mall in Soweto on the outskirts of Johannesburg on Tuesday

A self-armed local looks for looters inside a supermarket following protests that have widened into looting, in Durban, on Tuesday

Smoke rises from a Makro building set on fire overnight in Umhlanga, north of Durban, on Tuesday

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