Pretoria: The ongoing unrest in South Africa has severely affected the Indians and Indian origin South Africans in the country, even as the government has deployed additional troops. According to reports, thousands of businesses and establishments owned by Indians have been looted and vandalised by pro-Zuma rioters amid the unrest. More than 117 people were killed in the violence that ensued after the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.
As per accounts, the reason Indians are being targeted has to do with an influential Gupta brothers, who were close to Zuma and allegedly influenced various aspects of his regime, culminating in allegations of corruption against the Zuma dispensation. The riots are purportedly an attempt to absolve Zuma and pin the blame on the Guptas, who have fled South Africa for Dubai.
Violence against Indians in Durban
Reports added that Durban, which is home to over a million Indians and Indian origin South Africans, is witnessing a surge in the attacks on establishments owned by them. Apart from that, Indian women have also been issued rape threats by some pro-Zuma rioters, an Indian origin woman said. "They have looted everything and have made statements that they are going to rape the Indian women," she added. As per reports, the riots have also led to widespread looting and burning of warehouses. Businesses like technology and retail stores, motor dealerships, pharmacies and supermarkets owned by Indians have been attacked. Major losses amounting to millions have been reported due to South Africa's civil unrest. The rioters have reportedly stolen fridges, television sets and groceries among other things. Apart from the lootings, the country is also witnessing a surge in racial violence between the native South Africans and Indians.
Gujarati bizmen worried
Gujarati businessman Abdul Patel told his relatives in Limbayat, Surat, that he hasn’t witnessed such lawlessness in South Africa. It’s been more than two decades since Abdul shifted to Johannesburg from Limbayat. Many Gujarati businessmen settled in that country, especially those hailing from the southern part of Gujarat, have suffered heavy losses after rioters targeted their establishments. As riots spread across cities like Johannesburg, Durban and Phoenix, the Gujarati expatriate bore the most brunt of it. In Durban, which has a population of over 10,00,000 people of Indian origin, several business establishments owned by Gujaratis have been targeted by the rioters.
More than 20,000 troops deployed
The authorities begun deploying more than 20,000 troops to assist police in quelling week-long unrest, as the death toll soared to 117 people in the rioting and looting. In one of the largest deployments of soldiers since the end of white minority rule in 1994, the government said 10,000 soldiers were on the streets and the South African National Defence Force has also called up all of its reserve force of 12,000 troops.
In a show of force, a convoy of more than a dozen armoured personnel carriers brought soldiers into Gauteng province, South Africa’s most populous, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, and the executive capital, Pretoria.
Buses, trucks, aeroplanes and helicopters were also being used to move the large deployment of troops to trouble spots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal province that have seen a week of violence in mainly poor areas. More than 2,200 people have been arrested, the acting minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said, adding that Johannesburg was now “relatively calm”. But in KwaZulu-Natal province, the epicentre of the violence, the minister said the “situation remains volatile, but much improved and moving towards stability”.