Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 16,435 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,253,240. Deaths have reached 65,972 (+377), while recoveries have climbed to 1,982,122, leaving the country with a balance of 205,146 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 4,869,759 (+180,980).
- Unrest: While things have calmed down significantly on the looting and rioting front, armed criminals are continuing their incursions, targeting smaller communities and residential areas in KZN. Overnight reports are that an armed group of 25 people clashed with community patrols while looking to ransack or possibly destroy one of the last sources of food in the area. The criminals fired live rounds at the residents, cementing the view that criminals and gangs have co-opted the unrest. Residents say things remain tense in many areas, and the unrest is still not over. Private security forces were called in to reinforce. [News24, EWN]
- Racial tensions: Amid the criminality of the riots, the police ministry has acknowledged rising racial tensions in Phoenix, KZN, where a narrative is being spun that the predominantly Indian community of the area are being specifically targetted by black South Africans who live in the area surrounding them. People in the area describe the air of paranoia and tension being driven by fake news being spread over social platforms. 20 people have been confirmed dead in clashes between residents, with 14 incidents under investigation. Police minister Bheki Cele said that the racial aspect was secondary to the primary wave of criminality involved with the looting and riots. [ENCA, 702]
- Health crisis: It is a desperate situation for residents in KZN, with reports indicating that half of the patients in the province have no chronic medication, while the Covid vaccine rollout remains heavily stunted. While the government plans to go full out with vaccines in areas not affected by the violent riots over the past week, it doesn’t want to broadcast live vaccination sites out of fear this will draw criminals to loot those areas. Pharmacies and medical warehouses were looted and destroyed, some Covid vaccines were stolen, and the health department intends to charge those responsible with murder, for causing the deaths of those who needed life-saving medicine. [Bhekisisa]
- Powerships: The multi-year multi-billion rand powership deal is coming to a head as the Turkish-led consortium behind the deal has filed an appeal against the environment department’s decision to reject its powership solution for government’s emergency power programme. Meanwhile, the Green Scorpions have recommended criminal charges be brought against the group, arising from Karpowership’s earlier attempt to bypass environmental regulations. Environment minister Barbara Creecy has roughly 70 days to rule on the appeal, while the energy department mulls extending deadlines for the deal. [amaBhungane]
- Markets: The South African rand firmed on Thursday as it continued its recovery from more than three-month lows hit in recent days amid civil unrest in the country. The unit was up 1% at R14.47 against the dollar in early trade and weakened to over R14.50 by close of business. However, this was still stronger than the R14.75 levels hit during the peak of the riots. South Africa has been gripped by some of the worst violence in decades after the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma, with security forces struggling for most of the week to quell looting and riots in KwaZulu Natal and parts of Gauteng. On Friday the rand was at R14.55/$, R17.18/€ and R20.13/£.