South Africa has summoned its army reserves to quell days of looting, which disrupted the supply of food and other necessities and dealt a severe blow to its economy.

On Thursday, in most affected provinces, this chaos began to slowly recede, and then a surge of street soldiers is expected.

Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Lawrence Mbatha issued an order during the night as the turmoil entered the sixth day: “All reserve members will be in their respective units as soon as possible on the morning of July 15, 2022. check in.

The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that soldiers should “prepare the necessary equipment.”

These soldiers are expected to appear in hot spots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, where the police and army have been fighting chaos for several days.

On Wednesday, the government stated that it would require the deployment of approximately 25,000 soldiers in response to the emergency — 10 times the number initially deployed.

The riots began last Friday, triggered by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, but expanded to dissatisfaction with inequality and poverty.

Soldiers and an armored vehicle outside the Chris Hani shopping mall in Voslorus, northern suburbs of Johannesburg [Guillem Sartorio/AFP]

Shops and warehouses in the economic capital of Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal in the southeast were looted and set on fire.

The interruption has cut off the supply chain and blocked transportation links, disrupting the delivery of food, fuel, medicine and other necessities.

According to official data, 72 people have died, more than 1,200 people have been arrested, and South Africa’s consumer goods regulator estimates that more than 800 stores have been robbed.

Although arson and looting declined on Thursday, looting continued in the eastern port city of Durban.

A Reuters reporter saw crowds in the Mobeni community in Durban pushing away carts containing corn flour and other looted staple foods. Some loaded pickup trucks-one such truck had to be abandoned because it ran out of fuel. Due to the riots, gas stations throughout the city were closed.

Taxi drivers blocked some roads to prevent further looting.

Soldiers stand guard in front of the Maponya shopping mall in Soweto [Luca Sola/AFP]

Relatively calm

Al Jazeera reporter Haru Mutasa from Johannesburg said that the situation in the city was relatively calm on Thursday and community members are helping shopkeepers who lost their belongings during the protest.

“They have been cleaning the streets, helping the shopkeepers remove damaged things, and trying to rearrange them so that they can start operations smoothly.”

Mutasa said military personnel have been deployed outside shopping malls and businesses in Johannesburg to prevent further robberies.

The riots began on the second day of 15 months in prison on July 8 when former President Zuma refused to testify to the commission investigating corruption during his tenure.

The protest against the imprisonment of Zuma quickly turned into a robbery, because the crowd robbed the shopping center and dragged away the goods at the side of the police, seemingly powerless.

According to Mutasa, the protests developed rapidly and became “inequality and poverty” in South Africa.

Community members stood on the road to protect the entrance of Vereeniging’s Sky City Mall from robbery [Guillem Sartorio/AFP]

As the crisis escalated, the armed forces said on Monday that they would send 2,500 soldiers to help restore order.

Given that 70,000 soldiers were deployed to enforce the strict coronavirus lockdown last year, this number has been criticized by many as insignificant.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told Parliament that she had submitted a request to “add or subtract” 25,000 soldiers. The President must confirm such a request.

The request was made after President Cyril Ramaphosa told party leaders that parts of the country “may soon lack basic supplies” after the supply chain is disrupted.

The TV pictures of random robberies shocked many South Africans. When the economy has fallen into unemployment, especially young people are unemployed, business confidence has been severely hit.

The locals have begun to form a team of volunteer police officers to protect the infrastructure of their communities.

On Wednesday, a group of commuter minibus drivers armed themselves with sticks and guns and violently beat the suspected robbers in the town of Voslulus in Johannesburg.


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