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South African police call for end to violent riots as death toll climbs to over 70

South Africa   -  
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EMMANUEL CROSET/AFP or licensors -

South Africa

Police and security chiefs in South Africa have called on the population to stop riots after more than 100 people were arrested on Tuesday in connection to the looting of a mall.

Police charged against people taking part in riots in the Johannesburg township of Daveyton.

In recent days, the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma has led to unrest, leaving 72 people dead and 1,200 people arrested in in poor areas of two regions.

South Africa Police Minister, Bheki Cele said the security forces won't allow "mockery of our democratic state," and will double efforts to stop violence.

The military has deployed 2,500 troopers in support of the police.

Police have attributed the deaths in provinces to the stampedes as thousands of people stole food, electric appliances, liquor and clothing from stores.

Some of those arrested in Daveyton were bleeding from shattered glass on floors slippery from liquids spilled during the riots.

Running battles carried on as security and the police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to push back rioters, who were entering the shops by going through delivery entrances, emergency exits, and climbing on roofs.

Authorities have repeatedly warned people, including Zuma supporters and relatives, against using social media to encourage the riots.

Police said that about a dozen people have been identified as having instigated the riots.

Zuma is serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court for refusing to testify in an inquiry investigating allegations of corruption while he was president from 2009 to 2018.

The Constitutional Court, the country's highest, heard Zuma's application to have his sentence rescinded on Monday.

Zuma's lawyer argued that the top court made errors when sentencing Zuma to prison. After 10 hours of testimony, the judges said they would announce their decision at a later date.

More than half of South Africa's 60 million people are living in poverty, with an unemployment rate of 32%, according to official statistics.

The pandemic, with job layoffs and an economic downturn, has increased the hunger and desperation that helped propel the protests triggered by Zuma's arrest into wider rioting.

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