On the 9th of July 2021 there were reports of large scale public violence, burglary and malicious damage to property. As the day continued the full extent of what was occurring shocked people all over the country. Massive amounts of people began flooding their local malls and shops, breaking windows, tearing down doors and taking everything in sight. While this was happening other groups gathered on the highways and attacked and looted transport trucks and set them on fire.
This escalated so quickly that police were left powerless as massive mobs tore down everything in sight.
The reason for these riots seemed to stem from the arrest of the previous president Jacob Zuma. The former president was charged with corruption in March 2018 after his alleged involvement in the South African Arms Deal involving 30 billion rand (2.5billion US dollars).
Although the former president was facing corruption charges, he was arrested for contempt of court. The former President did not attend a court summons on multiple occasions and eventually the Constitutional court ruled him in contempt.
Armed groups had gathered outside his private residence in an attempt to stop the police from arresting him, however on the 7th of July he handed himself in. He appealed due to health reasons and the court rejected it on the 9th of July. On the same day as the rejection the riots began and continued till past the 20th of July.
Looters seemed to target large scale electronics stores, clothing stores, as well as grocery stores, gathering in their thousands and loading up vehicles to carry it all away.
Violence then spilled into the nearby suburban neighborhoods and was only stopped by the combined effort of home owners and private security companies standing up against the mobs
Initial estimates by the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) on 13 July put the loss to the GDP of Durban in excess of R20 billion ($1.4billion), and further estimates by the 20th of July put the damages in excess of R50 billion ($3.4billion)
A total of 161 shopping malls, 11 warehouses, and 8 factories suffered damages in the province. Across the country more then 100 further malls,161 liquor outlets, 1400 ATM’s, 90 pharmacies and about 300 bank and post offices were damaged and looted.
40 000 businesses and 50 000 traders were affected, with stock of over R1.5billion lost and over 150 000 jobs now put at risk.
On the 29th of July the ruling government declared a state of disaster as the riots have caused long term effects such as Food shortages, Fuel Shortages, Medical supply shortages and suspension of many services such as banking and emergency response in the affected areas.
Police have begun investigations relating to the instigators in these riots. However a lot of focus of the investigations has been on the home owners who protected their suburban areas from rioters, declaring them vigilantes and attributing a racial motive behind their actions.
At this stage few arrests have been made but the far reaching effects of this looting will only truly be felt in the upcoming months.