Ongoing violent demonstrations in South Africa have claimed the lives of at least 10 people, despite soldiers being deployed to help restore calm.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has also appealed for the public to exercise caution amid protest action – saying, they will not tolerate further violent demonstrations or acts of criminality. Extra police officers and the army have been deployed to quell the unrest.
Addressing the nation on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the deployment of the SANDF in efforts to restore order and called on communities to remain calm and to stop undermining the rule of law.
“We already have our soldiers on the ground in Gauteng and KZN. It’s 2500 but the Defence Force is doing all in its power to get more soldiers to deploy them,” says Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobhozi, SANDF spokesperson.
“I can assure South Africans that the soldiers will behave but one thing I must say to the community is please, we beg you not to provoke our members that are on the streets. We won’t tolerate any ill-discipline as the SANDF during this deployment.”
What had started out as a protest to express unhappiness over the imprisonment of the country’s former president Jacob Zuma has turned into widespread looting.
Two provinces have been affected by violent protests and looting – KwaZulu-Natal, which is Jacob Zuma’s home province, and the economic hub of Gauteng.
Authorities say the economy has been affected as shops and other businesses have been damaged and had their stock stolen.
Police have arrested more than 700 people in areas where the looting continues unabated.