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South Africa calls up army reserves to halt unrest

South Africa has unleashed its military reserves in an attempt to quell several days of looting that has devastated supplies of food and other essentials and dealt a devastating blow to its economy after the conviction of the former President, Jacob Zuma by the court

“All reserve members are required to report to duty first thing in the morning, July 15, 2021, in their respective units,” Army Chief Lt. Gen. Lawrence Mbatha said in orders issued overnight when the riots they were entering their sixth day.

The soldiers must “come ready with their necessary equipment,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The soldiers were expected in hotspots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, where police and the army have been fighting disorder for days.

On Wednesday, the government said it would request the deployment of some 25,000 troops to deal with the emergency, ten times the number it initially deployed.

Shops and warehouses around the economic capital of Johannesburg and in the southeastern state of KwaZulu-Natal have been looted and burned.

The disruption has cut supply chains and clogged transportation links, hurting deliveries of food, fuel, medicine and other essential items.

According to official figures, 72 people have died and more than 1,200 have been arrested, while South Africa’s consumer goods regulator estimates that more than 800 stores have been looted.

A reporter for the Reuters news agency saw crowds in Durban’s Mobeni neighborhood dragging carts loaded with looted cornmeal and other staples. Some loaded pick-up trucks: One of those trucks had to be abandoned because it had run out of fuel. Gas stations have closed throughout the city due to the unrest.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Johannesburg, said the situation in the city was relatively calm on Thursday and that people from the community were helping shop owners who lost their belongings during the protests.

“They have been cleaning the streets, helping store owners remove what has been damaged and trying to set things up again so they can start running smoothly.”

Mutasa said army personnel have been deployed outside of Johannesburg’s shopping malls and businesses to prevent further looting.

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