Pretoria has begun deploying troops on the streets of several South African cities on the fourth day of massive protests in which at least six people have been killed. While sparked by the detention of former President Jacob Zuma, the demonstrations are also being driven by massive unemployment and economic malaise caused by COVID-19 lockdowns.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a national address on Monday evening that the protests would soon lead to shortages in food and medicine if they didn’t stop, and had already interrupted the country’s vaccination program at a time the government is attempting to ramp up the pace of shots.
Earlier on Monday, the South African military announced it would begin putting troops on the streets of several major cities, including the legislative capital of Johannesburg and the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, after mass protests brought fires, looting, and several deaths from gunshot wounds.
The size and duration of the deployment will be determined “according to the assessment of the situation on the ground by the police,” the statement adds, noting their missions will be “to provide security and a safe working environment for law enforcement agencies” to do their job.
Video from the town on Monday morning showed flames billowing from a shopping mall, and there were widespread reports of looting, fires, and police shooting rifles and tear gas at protesters.
WARNING! The following video…