Journalist appeals for help in Indian-dominated Phoenix in South Africa
Jayshree Parusuramen, from East Coast Radio Traffic Scene, urges the security forces to come to the assistance of the people of Phoenix, a predominantly Indian town near Durban in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Violent protests erupted in both KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces after former South African President Jacob Zuma began serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court last Thursday.
Looting, arson, property destruction and killings quickly followed. To date, 72 people have died, according to AP reports, while more than 1200 have been arrested. The Bloomberg news agency reported more than 200 shopping malls having been looted by Monday afternoon with the looting continuing into Tuesday.
With police outnumbered and unable to quell the rioting, 2,500 members of the armed forces have been deployed to assist them. Rubber bullets and stun grenades are being fired in the battle to re-establish order.
Communities in places such as Phoenix, however, have found themselves forced to defend their own lives and properties from ransack and destruction. Residents have reported armed gangs threatening them, breaking into their houses and businesses and attacking with petrol bombs.
Official statistics show that more than half of South Africa’s 60 million people live in poverty amid high levels of unemployment, a state of affairs that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
These conditions have served as “ticking bombs that have exploded”, according to a BBC report. Social media has been blamed for the spreading of fake news that has fanned the flames of unrest and at least 12 people have been identified by authorities as instigators of the riots.
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