South Africa riot death toll rises to 337

South Africa riot death toll rises to 337


The unrest in South Africa this month claimed 337 lives, the government said Thursday, a further increase in the death toll from the 276 announced the previous day.

The riots began as protests against the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma two weeks ago in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal. But it quickly escalated to arson and looting, and spread to Gauteng Province, home to the largest city, Johannesburg.

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The unrest in South Africa this month claimed 337 lives, the government said Thursday, a further increase in the death toll from the 276 announced the previous day.

The riots began as protests against the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma two weeks ago in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal. But it quickly escalated to arson and looting, and spread to Gauteng Province, home to the largest city, Johannesburg.

“South African police have revised the total riot-related deaths to 79 in Gauteng (province) and KwaZulu-Natal to 258,” said Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in the president’s office, adding that some of the recent deaths have occurred They were people who were injured during the rioting.

The scale of the destruction and loss of life fueled by poverty and inequality that continued nearly three decades after Artheid ended in 1994 is still evident.

The authorities have managed to bring the violence under control. But the economic cost is estimated at R20 billion (US $ 1.37 billion) in KwaZulu-Natal alone, as 161 shopping malls, 11 warehouses and eight factories were badly damaged. The extent of the damage in Gauteng is still being recorded.

South African President Cyril Ramhosa said the riots are stabilizing and calm has been restored in most of the affected areas, but the destruction will cost the country billions of rand.

(With contributions from agencies)

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