S.South Africa’s government has mobilized another 25,000 soldiers to fight violent protests in the country. It is one of the largest military operations since the existence of a democratic South Africa. All available reservists received marching orders, the army said in a statement late Wednesday evening. They would report to their units with all their equipment on Thursday morning.
Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had informed parliament on Wednesday evening about the planned operation, as reported by the TV channel eNCA. The mobilization has yet to be approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa. 5000 soldiers have been deployed so far.
“Some people are preparing for a war”
Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that tens of thousands of rounds of live ammunition had been found in a suburb of Durban late in the evening. He told TV broadcaster Newzroom Africa: “Some people are preparing for war.” It is wrong that people only pillaged out of hunger – some of them also armed themselves. “A dangerous situation,” he said without further explanation.
The port city of Durban and the surrounding province of KwaZulu-Natal have been particularly hard hit by the violence. Civil vigilante groups are also formed there. The government mobilized the military in KwaZulu-Natal and in the metropolitan area around the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria because the police were outnumbered by the looters.
The riots began as protests against the imprisonment of former KwaZulu-Natal President Jacob Zuma. A week ago he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for disregarding the judiciary. The protests then quickly developed into large-scale riots.