Racial tensions in South Africa: 22 people arrested

Tuesday, the government said that South African police had arrested 22 people suspected of committing 36 murders during recent racial tensions withinKwaZulu-Natal province.

“The police operations also resulted in the seizure of a total of 152 weapons which have been transferred for forensic testing to establish whether they were used in the killings in the town of Phoenix, north of Durban,” Police Minister Bheki Cele said at a press briefing.

In July, South Africa was rocked by deadly violence and unprecedented riots following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, who was convicted of contempt of court. This situation has fueled racial tensions, particularly between black South Africans and the Indian community.

Cele said the majority of the victims were attacked by militia groups who set up roadblocks on the roads leading to residential areas of Phoenix in response to the looting and violence that has ravaged the province.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government declared a state of disaster due to the extent of the economic and human damage caused by the violent riots. According to official figures, South Africa lost more than 50 billion rand (more than $3 billion) in the riots.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said nearly 200 shopping centers, 300 stores, 1,400 ATMs, 300 banks and post offices, and 120 pharmacies were vandalized and ransacked in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

The human toll was also very high, with no fewer than 330 people killed, mainly as a result of the stampedes that took place during the looting of shopping centers.

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