Zuma unrest: Residents 'forming armed groups to protect businesses, homes in KwaZulu-Natal'

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  • Residents across KwaZulu-Natal have formed armed groups to protect businesses and homes. 
  • This is amid violent unrest and looting across KwaZulu- Natal and Gauteng. 
  • The Durban Community Policing Forum has called for restraint. 

Residents in KwaZulu-Natal have formed armed groups to protect businesses and homes as looters beset the province on Monday. This follows days of unrest following the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma last week.

Since Zuma was jailed in the Estcourt Prison, mass civil unrest has broken out with widespread looting and vandalism. At least seven people have been killed and over 200 people have been arrested.

Sources in law enforcement told News24 that home and business owners had begun banding together in armed groups.

WATCH | Pietermaritzburg mall goes up in flames amid looting, riots

Reports from Phoenix, Queensburgh, Hillcrest, Sydenham, and Amanzimtoti indicate that community groups had massed, and placed themselves in the path of throngs of looters.

Business people and residents in Isipingo joined police in the streets in efforts to quell the looting. 

READ | #ZumaUnrest: Was SANDF deployment necessary to curb violence? We ask three experts

Durban Community Policing Forum chairperson Imtiaz Syed said people were taking measures to protect themselves, including barricading their homes and establishing road blocks in their suburbs.

"We have been trying to talk to them and get people to act in a restrained manner but its uncontrollable. People are doing what they can," he said.

READ | Boy, 11, shot dead during unrest in Pietermaritzburg

Residents have armed themselves with firearms, as well as sticks and clubs in some instances.

At the Northway Spar in Woodlands, Pietermaritzburg, viral video footage showed armed men patrolling the parking lot. One wheelchair-bound man armed with a scoped rifle was seen stationed on the balcony of the building.

This is beyond platoons of private security guards who have been deployed during the unrest, in an effort to augment the police who have been stretched to breaking point.

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