President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night revealed that at least 489 suspects have been arrested by the police in connection with the arson unleashed in South Africa after pro-Zuma protests spiralled out of control.
The country’s former president, Jacob Zuma, surrendered himself to 15-months jail term, and as a result, violence erupted, leaving at least six people dead.
According to Reuters, soldiers were deployed to rioting areas after the disturbances intensified as Zuma challenged his 15-month prison term in the country’s top court.
Arson, razing of buildings, burgling of shops as well as looting have been recorded in Pietermaritzburg in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) as well as Gauteng where the country’s biggest city, Johannesburg, is located.
As a result, the Gauteng provincial government and an independent pharmacy association said that some COVID-19 vaccination sites and clinics in Gauteng and KZN were shuttered due to safety concerns.
“What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a late-evening address on Monday.
He said 489 suspects in the two provinces had been arrested and all government agencies had been mobilised.
“We will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute those who perpetrate these actions and will ensure that they face the full might of our law.”
Ramaphosa however warned of a possible shortage of food and medicine shortages in the coming weeks, if the looting of shopping centres, pharmacies and disruption to supply chains continues.