#UnrestSA: Death toll now at 117, alleged instigator in custody, says Ntshavheni

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Police try to prevent looting in Daveyton.
Police try to prevent looting in Daveyton.
Gallo Images/OJ Koloti
  • One suspect believed to be one of the instigators behind the unrest is in custody, said acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
  • Over hundred lives have been lost due to the riots in the space of a week.
  • Although the government commended the collaboration between the police and communities, it condemned those who were armed and retaliating against people accused of looting. 

The government has confirmed that 117 people died in the violent unrest that gripped KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng over the last week.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni revealed on Thursday that 26 deaths had been recorded in Gauteng, while 91 lives were lost in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ntshavheni said from the 12 instigators alleged to be behind the unrest, one of them was already in custody.

"The South African Police Service tracking team has increased the surveillance of the remaining 11," she added.

READ | Major disruptions at Durban and Richards Bay ports due to unrest

The two provinces have been plagued by riots since last week.

Ntshavheni announced while the unrest continued, Gauteng was largely calm and there were fewer incidents of looting and property destruction taking place overnight.

"This has been largely due to increasing deployment of the South African National Defence Force. SAPS members have been in areas identified as potential hot spots," she said.

READ | Ex-MK operatives may be at heart of 'insurrection' - State Security Deputy Minister Kodwa

An additional 139 suspects believed to be involved in the unrest were apprehended in Gauteng, increasing the number of arrests to 725 in the province.

Inquests have been opened to confirm whether some of the deaths were linked to the unrest.

Ntshavheni added:

To date, SAPS has received reports of 26 deaths, cumulative, in Gauteng, related to the violence. However, six bodies were discovered on the roof of Thembisa South Mall.

READ | Zizi Kodwa says 'experienced' people behind looting as residents stand to protect Soweto mall

She said the situation in KwaZulu-Natal remained volatile but was slowly moving towards stability.

Thirty-nine incidents had been reported and an additional 392 arrests were made, bringing the number of people in custody to 1 478.

Verified deaths were said to stand at 91 in the province.

Ntshavheni added the government was concerned about the racial tensions brewing in areas such as Phoenix.

Although it commended the collaboration between the police and communities, the government condemned those who were armed and retaliating against people accused of looting. 

"Government would like to caution the public that people are entitled to protecting their property and lives, if this is done in a manner that everyone's right to life is protected as provided for in our Constitution and can only be infringed in extremely limited circumstances.

"We do not want a situation whereby members of the public are at loggerheads with the law," it said.

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