Ever since violence broke out in parts of South Africa following the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma there have been at least two hundred casualties and more than a thousand people injured, the largest number ever since the country came out of the apartheid rule in 1990.
There have been escalated tension between the Indian Community in South Africa and the Blacks. There has also been news of looting of local supermarkets and police officers have been tasked with protecting the deliveries of food to supermarkets after days of widespread looting led to shortages.
A mayor of the KwaZulu-Natal province said that an estimated $1bn (INR 7,400 Crore) worth of stock was stolen in with at least 800 retail shops looted.
The targetted group in all these riots are Indians in South Africa because of the involvement of Indian origin Gupta Brothers in the corruption by former South African President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma is facing two broad sets of corruption charges, one of which relates to a $2 billion arms deal in 1999 when he was deputy president for which he has denied the charges.
The other corruption charges are during 2009-2018, a period of his presidency. It is these allegations in which Jacob Zuma refused to cooperate with the inquiry panel.
The Gupta brothers became close friends with Zuma after meeting him at an event around 2015-16.
In 2016, there was a political controversy in South Africa over allegations that the Gupta Brothers had promised the then deputy finance minister an elevation to the post of the finance minister if he advanced their business interests. The Guptas allegedly also promised to pay 600 million rands.
At that time only the former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan alleged that the Gupta Brothers were responsible for having him fired from the Jacob Zuma government.
Back in 2017, about 1 lakh emails were leaked which established how deeply the Gupta Brothers influenced the Jacob Zuma government.
In February 2018, the Opposition brought a no-confidence motion against Jacob Zuma and it forced Zuma to step down as South Africa’s president. The Gupta Brothers soon fled to Dubai, the UAE.
(Riots in South Africa)
Now as the corruption charger are back on Zuma, he has refused to cooperate and accepted a jail term instead of presenting documents before the inquiry panel.
Now, as he is sentenced, the riots have not only thrown South Africa in chaos but also brought out glaring inequality between the black and the white community. The riots are also being linked to people’s anger over lack of economic progress, widespread corruption and gross Covid-19 mismanagement.
Now the violence in South Africa has furthermore disrupted the supply of oxygen and medicines to hospitals where Covid-19 patients are admitted and also led to the closure of workplaces including the biggest oil refinery of South Africa, the SAPREF in Durban after rioters outnumbered the security personnel.
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has spoken to his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor and expressed concern over the widespread violence and rioting in that country and President Cyril Ramaphosa has dispatched his police minister and the premier of KwaZulu Natal province to a township in Durban, amid escalating tensions between the Indian and Black communities there.