The Nation (Nigeria)

Six dead in South Africa as Army quells pro-zuma protests

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PRETORIA has begun deploying troops on the streets of several South African cities on the fourth day of massive protests in which at least six people have been killed.

The demonstrat­ions sparked by the detention of former President Jacob Zuma are also being driven by massive unemployme­nt and economic malaise caused by COVID-19 lockdowns.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a national address yesterday evening that the protests would soon lead to shortages in food and medicine if they didn’t stop, and had already interrupte­d the country’s vaccinatio­n programme at a time the government is attempting to ramp up the pace of shots.

Yesterday, the South African military announced it would begin putting troops on the streets of several major cities, including the legislativ­e capital of Johannesbu­rg and the Kwazulu-natal (KZN) cities of Pietermari­tzburg and Durban, after mass protests brought fires, looting, and several deaths from gunshot wounds.

“The South African National Defence Force has commenced with pre-deployment processes and procedures in line with a request for assistance received... to assist law enforcemen­t agencies deployed in Gauteng and Kwazulu-natal provinces respective­ly to quell the unrest that has gripped both Provinces in the last few days," the military said in a statement obtained by AFP.

The size and duration of the deployment will be determined "according to the assessment of the situation on the ground by the police,” the statement adds, noting their missions will be “to provide security and a safe working environmen­t for law enforcemen­t agencies" to do their job.

However, Reuters reported that one of its field reporters had already spotted troops in Pietermari­tzburg.

Video from the town yesterday morning showed flames billowing from a shopping mall, and there were widespread reports of looting, fires, and police shooting rifles and tear gas at protesters.

Other videos on social media showed at least two bodies in a ditch alongside the road, although it wasn’t clear where the video had been filmed.

In Phoenix, an Indian town between Durban and Pietermari­tzburg, residents took up arms and set up roadblocks, shooting several looters dead. A reporter with South African news outlet ENCA reported that “racial discrimina­tion is creeping into the action taken by some residents to ‘protect’ themselves,” although it was unclear who was targeting who.

According to Reuters, at least 219 people have been arrested since the protests broke out on Friday. While they were primarily focused

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