South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has disowned the rioters, with authorities claiming that protests have been “hijacked” by criminal elements. Many observers argue that the worsening economic situation because of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the looting worse. More than 50 percent of South Africans live in poverty.
Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday discussed the ongoing rioting and vandalism with his opposite number in South Africa, Naledi Pandor, as violence and looting by supporters of jailed former president Jacob Zuma spread to Indians resident in the country and the white suburbs.
79-year-old Zuma, a member of the African National Congress (ANC), served as South Africa’s president between 2009 and 2018. He handed himself in to the police on 7 July to serve a 15-month jail term for contempt of court because he had refused to appear at a corruption enquiry. The ANC veteran is accused of favouring an business conglomerate which originated in India and is run by the Gupta Family, with lucrative contracts during his term in power.
His arrest triggered massive protests, accompanied by looting of businesses, in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the nation’s two most populous and urbanised provinces.
The looting and violence by his supporters prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to bring the army in to patrol the streets of major cities, including Durban,…