Death toll in South Africa unrest rises to 276 – Minister

Following the imprisonment of ex-President Jacob Zuma, the number of deaths resulting from the violence that erupted in South Africa has now risen to 276.

Recall that atleast 72 people have been killed in the violence as of July 13.

The former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court, following his refusal to appear before a graft panel.

Zuma, a 79-year-old man was imprisoned for defying court order to testify before an inquiry probing allegations of corruption against him during his term as president.

The violent demonstrations, which started in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s province, spread to Gauteng province with many shops looted, several injured and vehicles left burning on roads.

An acting minister in the president’s office, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni in a media briefing on Wednesday said investigation on the deaths resulting from the unrest revealed that 276 persons have died so far adding that 168 of these deaths are being investigated for murder.

“Since the unrest, total of 234 deaths as related to the unrest were reported in KwaZulu-Natal to date. The SA Police Service (SAPS) are investigating 151 cases for murder and 83 inquest dockets have been opened and 15 arrests related to the cases of murder have been made,” she said.

“A total of 42 deaths as related to the unrest were reported in Gauteng to date, and of these reported deaths, the SAPS are investigating 17 cases for murder, and 25 cases are still at an inquest stage and no arrests have been made as yet related to the cases of murder.”

She said “stability” had returned to the two provinces rocked by unprecedented violence and that police were carrying out “mopping-up operations to ensure opportunistic and copycat activities do not find traction”.

David Makhura, Gauteng province premier, had accused criminals of hijacking the protest.

“It is extremely sad. Looting is not a solution. We are losing lives. We cannot afford this. We are calling for calm; we are calling for peace. This is destroying everything we had been building. The progress we had made in the township economy is being reversed by this looting, destruction and shutting down. The looting has to stop,” he had said.