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Pasha 117: What drove South Africa’s recent violence and looting and what to do about it

After former president Jacob Zuma was recently arrested for contempt of court, South Africa went into disarray. Widespread looting, vandalism and violence broke out. Two provinces – Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, and KwaZulu-Natal, on the east coast – bore the brunt of this. What was initially premised on Zuma’s arrest transpired into something much more coordinated, controlled and dangerous.

Many reasons for the violence have been noted. These include:

  • the frustration of hungry and cold people whose prospects were already constrained by the pandemic;

  • inequality between rich and poor;

  • tensions within the governing party;

  • stereotypical Zulu nationalism; and

  • racial tensions in the country.

It cannot be ignored that these incidents speak of insurrection - which means to rise against the power of the state, generally using weaponry. In today’s episode of Pasha, David Everatt, a professor of urban governance at Wits University, discusses the elements that led to the violence and how the government must deal with it.

“A member of SAPS shoots rubber bullets to disperse a crowd looting outside a warehouse storing alcohol in Durban on July 16, 2021.” By Guillem Sartorio/AFP via Getty Images

Music: “Happy African Village” by John Bartmann, found on licensed under CC0 1.

“One Night In Africa” by John Bartmann, found on Free Music Archive licensed under under a Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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