JOHANNESBURG – 72 people have now died in the ongoing looting in South Africa’s provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal, and 1,234 people have now been arrested.
Police say there have also been attempts in Mpumalanga with one incident of looting and destruction of property where one person is now in custody. Another report was of two incidents in the Northern Cape, where one person has been arrested.
Three ministers leading the security response, including police minister Bheki Cele, say they know of about 10 to 12 people instigating the violence.
State security minister Ayanda Dlodlo confirmed that they have also received tip offs that former intelligence agents and right wing extremists are behind the violence.
However defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula who deployed the army the day before, said the country is not at a stage to declare a state of emergency yet.
In Soweto the army has started patrolling ransacked shopping malls where ATM machines were ripped out of walls and clothing retailers are left with empty shelves.
Gauteng premier David Makhura went to Meadowlands where 10 people were killed in a looting stampede and their bodies were discovered late on Monday night by police. The death toll for the province at that time was 19, but when police released the latest figures they more than doubled to 45.
Makhura said law enforcement agencies were pursuing leads about opportunistic criminal and political elements instigating the violence and all political parties in the province were behind efforts to curb the destruction.
But Makhura expressed concern that service delivery especially health services were already suffering.
“There were hospitals in Ekurhuleni where oxygen was delayed because It was difficult for the Afrox truck to go through, some of our covid19 vaccination sites are not operating, they are closed because around them you have these types of activities where roads are blocked and people are generally afraid to go out.” says Makhura.
The Diepkloof Square mall was hit hard by looters on Monday. Centre manager Jabulani Sibiya said all 34 shops ranging from small businesses to commercial banks were looted. He says he called the police but they never came. By midday on Monday when they arrived they were overwhelmed and they watched helplessly.
One of the doctors whose rooms are in the centre said her practice is left with just a couch. Her equipment, stethoscopes, refrigerators, medical supplies and patient files are all gone…