President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa paid a visit to three commercial centers in Soweto on Sunday to assist with the cleanup of damaged businesses. The violence and looting that has swept the country for the past 10 days has wreaked havoc on malls in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.
Unrest erupted as former South African President Jacob Zuma began serving a 15-month term for contempt of court for refusing to participate at a state-backed inquiry into charges of corruption while in power.
Protests in township areas swiftly devolved into the theft. Rioters stormed shopping locations and industrial centers in Durban, emptying warehouses and setting them on fire. On Friday, Ramaphosa reminded the nation that over 2,500 people had been detained for theft and vandalism and that 212 people had died.
According to authorities, several of those who perished were stomped to death when stores were plundered “We are all really concerned about what happened here, Ramaphosa told reporters in Soweto.“but we are also saying we have learned valuable lessons,” “We have learned important lessons,” he continued, “and the most important lesson is, in the end, we must tighten up our security forces, but we must also ensure that the defense of our democracy is firmly in the hands of our people,”
This trip to Soweto coincided with Mandela Day, a global celebration in which residents are encouraged to devote 67 minutes to volunteering and community service in honor of former South African president and Father of the Nation Nelson Mandela.