South Africa is in a state of chaos and unrest ever since the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma on July 7. As riots, arson, violence and lootings escalate in the country, the Indian community living there faces dangers to their homes and businesses. In a desperate attempt to protect their businesses from looting, Indians have now stepped up their fight against the arsonists and looters.
The Background of the violence
Zuma, once known for his fight against apartheid, was imprisoned in the Estcourt Correctional Center for 15 months for disobeying court’s orders. Reportedly, he failed to testify before the judicial commission that was investigating accusations of corruption against him between 2009-2018. When the country’s apex Court i.e. Constitutional court refused to postpone his jail term, a series of pro-Zuma protests broke out in South Africa. It soon escalated to arson, and killings on the streets of Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provinces.
Shopping centres, pharmacies were looted and the supply chain and Coronavirus vaccination drives were disrupted. In all, 6 people have been killed so far and a total of 489 suspects have been arrested. In a statement, incumbent 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. 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.”
#ShutdownSA Game Nandi Drive in KZN looted. Protesters have emptied the store. Despite the address by President @CyrilRamaphosa the lawlessness continues unabated. Businesses are losing millions of Rands in stolen stock by criminals. #Looting pic.twitter.com/JJcBFBZ4ON— 🚀 𝔽𝕒𝕚𝕫𝕖𝕝 ℙ𝕒𝕥𝕖𝕝 (@FaizelPatel143) July 13, 2021
On Monday, the African National Congress (ANC) informed that the poor people had to bear the consequences of the destruction caused during the pro-Zuma riots. The former President is accused of corruption in a $2 billion dollar arms deal in 1999. He has also been accused of helping the three brothers of the Indian-origin Gupta family i.e. Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta in plundering State resources and peddling influence over government policy. His supporters, however, deny such allegations and claim that Zuma is a victim of a political witchhunt.
As per reports, in several places of the country, residential communities have formed armed groups to defend their homes and businesses from the rioters. Armed groups of civilians have reportedly been formed in several parts of Durban city as community members try to defend themselves. As police forces and private security provisions are stretched beyond their capacity, residents and business owners seem to be taking the law into their own hands to save lives and property.
The Indian community arms itself to protect homes and businesses
Ex-President Jacob Zuma’s association with the Gupta brothers and their role in the corruption cases is being used as an excuse to target many Indian businesses and Indian communities living in Durban and Johannesburg, as per some reports. One such Twitter handle, instigating riots against Indians, wrote, “Let us not forget that Jacob Zuma sold our country to Indian monopoly capital (IMC).” The Twitter handle had shared an image of the tainted Gupta brothers.
Twitter user, Enemy Slayer, shared visuals of how Indian and white property owners resorted to gunfire to protect their shops from looting as chaos broke out in several cities of South Africa.
Some Indian and White property owners resorted to firing to protect their shops from looting as chaos and looting is happening in many major cities of South Africa. pic.twitter.com/2ZCC58yPgv— Enemy Slayer (@EnemySlayer24_7) July 12, 2021
Members of the Indian community were seen armed with guns and artillery to ward off rioters, looters, and arsonists. Willem Petzer, the Chairman of Taxpayers Union of South Africa, tweeted, “I have to say, after watching everything that happened today, I am looking at the Durban Indian community in a whole different light. These guys showed us they are willing to go all the way to defend their communities when they are threatened, whatever it takes.”
I have to say, after watching everything that happened today, I am looking at the Durban Indian community in a whole different light.— Willem Petzer (@willempet) July 12, 2021
These guys showed us they are willing to go all the way to defend their communities when they are threatened, whatever it takes. pic.twitter.com/GsD8rO6x3k
In another video, Indian private security was seen hunting down rioters in South Africa.
Seeing the courage and fight put up by the Indians in an act of self-defence, Dawie Malan said, “Tonight I salute the Indian communities for taking law into their own hands.”
Tonight I salute the Indian communities for taking law into their own hands.— Dawie Malan (@DawieMalan3) July 12, 2021
Netizens blamed the incumbent President for his failure in stopping the arson, looting and riots. Crime Stoppers International VP, Yusuf Abramjee, tweeted, “What is President Cyril Ramaphosa waiting for? Do they want more malls to burn? Do they want more looting? This lawlessness is not stopping. ACT!! The country is on fire.”
What is President @CyrilRamaphosa @GovernmentZA waiting for? Do they want more malls to burn? Do they want more looting? This lawlessness is not stopping. ACT!! The country is on fire. @SANDF_ZA @PresidencyZA @SAPoliceService— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) July 12, 2021
Ex-Johannsensberg Mayor Herman Mashaba wrote, “The SANDF (South African National Defence Force) is being deployed. Why did it take President Ramaphosa so long to realise the levels of lawlessness? Why did it take him so long to see how overwhelmed our law enforcement authorities are? What we have seen this morning, is the cost of indecisive leadership!”
The SANDF is being deployed.— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) July 12, 2021
Why did it take President Ramaphosa so long to realise the levels of lawlessness? Why did it take him so long to see how overwhelmed our law enforcement authorities are?
What we have seen this morning, is the cost of indecisive leadership!
As per latest reports, the South African government has decided to deploy the military at some places to curb the violence. Military sources have confirmed the development.