Flash Briefing: Civilians unite to defend their communities; SA to face food shortages; level 4 lockdown regulations changed

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  • South African taxi drivers, private security companies and ordinary civilians are stepping up to protect their businesses and communities following days of rioting and looting that the authorities have failed to quell. Protests erupted on July 10, triggered by former President Jacob Zuma’s incarceration on contempt-of-court charges, and quickly degenerated into a free-for-all in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, two of the country’s main economic hubs. At least 72 people have been killed, making the uprising the deadliest since apartheid ended in 1994. Hundreds of businesses have been ransacked by marauding mobs, and with the police unable to restore order, others are filling the breach.
  • South Africans are expected to face major food shortages in the wake of the violent unrest, as rioters upend supply chains by looting supermarkets and torching goods trucks. The number of shops looted exceeds 800 and more than 100 had been burnt down by Tuesday evening, according to the Consumer Goods Council of SA. The council is warning that South Africans could run out of food, as trucks cannot deliver goods to stores and retail warehouses have been burnt down. It said that “the closure of key transport routes has affected the supply chain of retail products and medical supplies”. “Factories will not be able to produce, resulting in food shortages, which will affect the most vulnerable and poor the most,” the council said.
  • In response to the civil unrest, changes have been made to South Africa’s Adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown regulations, allowing for community gatherings hosted by politicians, councillors, religious and traditional leaders “to deal with emergency matters”. The changes come amid calls for government to institute a State of Emergency to deal with the unrest, as political leaders scramble to ease tensions in their communities.
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