MILITIAS armed with rifles in South Africa are fighting looters as riots spiral out of control with a hospital torched and 75 dead.
The impromptu militia vigilantes have stepped into the vacuum left by a police force hopelessly overstretched by the worst rioting since the fall of apartheid.
A fire engulfs Campsdrift Park, which houses Makro and China Mall, following protests that have widened into looting in PietermaritzburgCredit: Reuters
Militia stand guard as looting and violence continuedCredit: Reuters
Rioting has sparked by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma last week for failing to appear at a corruption inquiry.
But this has now widened into looting and an outpouring of general anger over the hardship and inequality that has plagues the country 27 years after the end of apartheid.
Shopping malls and warehouses have been ransacked or set ablaze in several cities, mostly in Zuma’s home in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province to the country’s biggest city Johannesburg and surrounding Gauteng province.
Footage shared on social media appeared to show the Lenmed Hospital in Durban in flames while other videos showed shopkeepers opening fire on a crowd of looters.
Overnight the turmoil spread to two other provinces — Mpumalanga, just east of Gauteng, and Northern Cape, police said in a statement.
Now scared South Africans have been forming “defence squads” to guard their homes and businesses.
Resident Pierre Gildenhuys told the Daily Telegraph: “These guys are doing an amazing job.
“Without these defence lines that they set up yesterday the situation could have been infinitely worse.”
Meanwhile, South Africa’s largest refinery SAPREF in Durban has been temporarily shut down due to the unrest, an industry official said.
The United Nations in South Africa expressed concern that the violence was disrupting transport for workers and medical staff and causing shortages of food, medicine and other essential products.
A spokesman said: “This will exacerbate the already social and economic hardships caused by joblessness, poverty and inequality in the country.”
Security officials said the government was working to halt the spread of the violence and looting.
The national prosecuting authority has said it will punish those caught looting or destroying property, a threat that so far has done little to deter them.
Soldiers have been sent onto the streets to help outnumbered police contain the unrest.
A women wrapped in a blanket in the colours of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) political party, walks past the bodies of two young men who were fleeing police when they fell into a sewage pit and drownedCredit: Getty
Suspected looters are pinned to the ground by an armed private security officer looking for lootersCredit: AFP
A suspected looter pulls a few items along the ground outside a vandalised mall in Vosloorus, on the outskirts of Johannesburg
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.