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Zuma riots – Deadly stampedes kill 27 looters leaving streets littered with bodies as military crackdown on protests

SOUTH African authorities have deployed troops after 27 people were killed in rioting and deadly stampedes sparked by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma.

Police said violence and looting had intensified as Zuma challenged his 15-month prison term in the country’s top court.

Soldiers, seen here guarding cash machines, have been deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces to deal with violent protests

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Soldiers, seen here guarding cash machines, have been deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces to deal with violent protestsCredit: AP
The South African National Defence Force has been deployed to help the police

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The South African National Defence Force has been deployed to help the policeCredit: Alamy

The judgment in the case has been reserved.

Meanwhile, smoke swirled from burning buildings as items from burgled shops lay strewn by the side of the road in Pietermaritzburg in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

People have died in stampedes as protesters ran riot, with bodies laying in the streets.

The sporadic pro-Zuma protests that broke out when he handed himself over last week have escalated into looting and arson, mainly in KZN.

Riots have also spread to Gauteng where the country’s biggest city, Johannesburg, is located.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft.”

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Police have arrested 489 suspects in the two provinces.

Mr Ramaphosa said: “We will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute those who perpetrate these actions and will ensure that they face the full might of our law.”

He warned that the looting of shopping centres, pharmacies and disruption to supply chains could lead to food and medicine shortages in the coming weeks, as well as disruption to the coronavirus vaccination drive.

A statement from the military said “pre-deployment processes had started” following a request for assistance from a government intelligence body.

But a Reuters news agency cameraman in Pietermaritzburg saw armed soldiers already in the streets.

What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality

Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President

Violent scenes have been branded “war-like” by a doctor in Zuma’s home state KwaZulu-Natal, where demonstrations have largely been staged.

On Monday, a shopping centre was burned and looted, with riots now spreading into neighbouring Gauteng and Johannesburg.

Dr Suhayl Essa says his clinic has become overwhelmed with patients —including a six-month-old girl who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet.

He slammed scenes as “a glimpse into hell” — with the military now urgently called in to tame flaring crowds.

Police have resorted to using rubber bullets to control violence, with dozens struck — including baby.

“It felt like war. We were listening to gunshots and screams, and then people were running in for help.”

Dr Suhayl Essa

“We were in war mode, dealing with the sickest and helping those who could be saved.

“There was a six-month-old-baby who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet.

“The mother was on the road trying to get home, and she was shot at.”

According to Dr Essa, countless people have also been stabbed since riots broke out.

“Because of how many people were stabbed in the chest, we had run out of chest drains,” he said.

“It felt like war. We were listening to gunshots and screams, and then people were running in for help.”

Former South African leader Zuma, 79, was sentenced late last month for defying a constitutional court order to give evidence at an inquiry investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in office until 2018.

The violence was triggered last week when the 79-year-old began serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court.

The Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, will hear Zuma’s appeal against the sentence on Monday.

Suspect looters are held at the Bara taxi rank shops in Soweto, Johannesburg

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Suspect looters are held at the Bara taxi rank shops in Soweto, JohannesburgCredit: AP
The body of a victim, covered with a blanket, lies on the ground next to police officers

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The body of a victim, covered with a blanket, lies on the ground next to police officersCredit: Reuters
Riots began on Friday after Zuma was jailed

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Riots began on Friday after Zuma was jailedCredit: AFP



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