Twenty-two more people have died in unrest raging in South Africa, taking the national death toll from days of violence to 32, a provincial official said on Tuesday.
The Official who sounded optimistic insisted the police would ensure the situation does not deteriorate any further.
Premier Sihle Zikalala told a news conference on Tuesday that the toll in KwaZulu-Natal province now stands at 26, a day after officials confirmed six deaths in Gauteng province.
“These were people killed during stampedes, as protesters ran riot,” he said, without specifying which parts of the province.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed troops to help police halt the violence and looting that are escalating as a result of the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma.
In his nationwide address Monday night, Ramaphosa lashed “opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft.”
It was “of vital importance that we restore calm and stability to all parts of the country without delay,” he said.
“The path of violence, of looting and anarchy, leads only to more violence and devastation,” Ramaphosa said.
Zuma’s home region, Southeastern KwaZulu-Natal is reported to be the epicentre of the unrest. Protests broke out last week shortly after Zuma started serving a 15-month term for rebuffing a probe into the corruption that stained his nine years in power. Looters attacked for the fifth day running, stores in Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
Police Minister Bheki Cele told a news conference that at least 757 people have been arrested, with most of the arrests taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa’s economic capital.
So far, the violence has been restrained to the two most populous provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which houses the economic hub of Johannesburg.
Zuma, 79, is a former anti-apartheid fighter who spent 10 years in jail in the notorious Robben Island jail off Cape Town. He rose in democratic South Africa to vice president and then president, thereafter he was overthrown by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 2018 as graft scandals thrived.
However, Zuma remained popular among many poor South Africans, especially grassroots members of the ANC, who described him as a defender of the deprived. Zuma was handed the jail term on June 29 by the Constitutional Court for bucking an order to appear before a commission probing the graft that proliferated under his nine years in power.
He started serving the jail term on Thursday after handing himself in to authorities as a deadline for surrender loomed.
Protests that began after Zuma started his sentence were swiftly followed by looting of shopping malls, with people carting away furniture, food items, TV sets, alcohol and other items.