/ 12 July 2021

All public transport in KZN stops as looting spreads

Topshot Safrica Politics Unrest
A member of the Durban Metro Police looks at a looted retail store in central Durban, on July 11, 2021. - Several shops are damaged and cars burnt in Durban, following a night of violence. Police are on the scene trying to control further protests. It is unclear if this is linked to sporadic protests following the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo by - / AFP)

Widespread looting of shops and attacks on shopping malls continued in various parts of KwaZulu-Natal on Monday as the province continued to bear the brunt of the wave of violence that has broken out since the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma last week.

All public transport in the province — buses, taxis and trains — stopped operating on Sunday in anticipation of the spread of violent looting on Monday.

The N3 has been closed to traffic to and from Johannesburg. A number of blockades on the N2 between Durban and Richards Bay have been reported, along with attacks on vehicles and shopping malls to the south of Durban.

While the initial outbreak of violence and looting took place in the CBD and townships around the city, by Monday it had spread to suburbia, with shopping malls being looted in Glenwood, Sydenham and Chatsworth.

A long trail consisting of people carrying goods looted in Glenwood were busy making their way towards the Ridge during the morning, with no police visible while they did so.

A major shopping centre in Pietermaritzburg, the newly built Brookside Mall, was burned and looted on Monday morning, while roads in and out of the KwaZulu-Natal capital were blocked for several hours.

Looting was also reported at Eshowe in the Umlalazi local municipality on Monday morning, with police arresting several people for attacking a supermarket in the centre of the town.

According to South African Police Service officials,  219 people have been arrested since the attacks started, 96 of them in Gauteng and 123 in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Late on Monday morning, the South African National Defence Force announced that troops were being deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Soldiers were immediately deployed to hotspots around the province, guarding a number of key points believed to be under threat from rioters. The KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature and the high court were among the first buildings to receive army guards.

The Durban central business district was hit hard by looters on Sunday night, as were several shopping malls in Umlazi, south of Durban, and Bridge City at KwaMashu. 

At the weekend, KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle ZIkalala called for calm and appealed to the national government to consider pardoning Zuma, who has been sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court by the Constitutional Court.

The ANC in the province, whose leadership has been calling for Zuma’s release to avoid further destruction of property and loss of life, had an emergency provincial working committee meeting on Sunday.