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Death toll in S.Africa unrest climbs to 45 after Soweto looting stampede

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South African troops patrol the ransacked Diepkloof Square shopping mall in Soweto as suspected looters lie on the ground

Stores in two South African provinces were ransacked on Tuesday for a fifth consecutive day, hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed troops in a bid to quell unrest that has claimed 45 lives.

The premier of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, said 10 bodies were found late Monday at a looted shopping centre in Soweto, on the city’s outskirts.

“The police discovered in the evening that 10 people died during (a) stampede,” provincial premier David Makhura told reporters.

The death toll for Gauteng stood at 19 deaths, he said.

Earlier, Sihle Zikalala, premier of the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, said 26 people there had died.

“These were people killed during stampedes as protesters ran riot,” Zikalala said, without specifying locations.

TV footage showed dozens of women, some wearing their dressing gowns, men and even children strolled into a butcher’s cold store in of Soweto, coming out balancing heavy boxes of frozen meat on their shoulders or heads.

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A sole private security guard stood by helplessly, frantically trying to make calls.

Police showed up three hours later, and fired rubber bullets.

In Alexandra township north of Johannesburg, hundreds of people streamed in and out of a shopping mall, freely picking up groceries.

Other images showed a warehouse being looted in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal’s capital.

People hauled boxed refrigerators through bushes to a long line of cars that were parked along a highway.

– ‘Anarchy’ –

At least 757 people have been arrested, Police Minister Bheki Cele told a news conference, with most of the arrests taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa’s economic capital.

Sounding a note of optimism, he insisted the police would ensure the situation “does not deteriorate any further.”

In his nationwide address Monday night, Ramaphosa lashed “opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft.”

It was “of vital importance that we restore calm and stability to all parts of the country without delay,” he said.

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“The path of violence, of looting and anarchy, leads only to more violence and devastation,” Ramaphosa said.

The unrest erupted last Friday after Zuma started serving a 15-month term for snubbing a probe into the corruption that stained his nine years in power.

Once dubbed the “Teflon president,” Zuma was handed the jail term on June 29 by the Constitutional Court for bucking an order to appear before a commission probing the graft that proliferated under his nine years in power.

He started serving the jail term on Thursday after handing himself in to authorities as a deadline for surrender loomed.

He is seeking to have the ruling set aside.

The Constitutional Court sat for 10 hours on Monday hearing from Zuma’s lawyers asking the court review its ruling. But the court reserved its judgement to a later, but unspecified date.

– Zuma popularity –

Zuma, 79, is a former anti-apartheid fighter who spent 10 years in jail in the notorious Robben Island jail off Cape Town.

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He rose in democratic South Africa to vice president and then president, before being ousted by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 2018 as graft scandals proliferated.

But he remains popular among many poor South Africans, especially grassroots members of the ANC, who portray him as a defender of the disadvantaged.

Protests that began after Zuma started his sentence were swiftly followed by pillaging of shopping malls, with people carting away TV sets, furniture, alcohol, food and other items, with the police seemingly powerless to act.

Ramaphosa took aim at those who said the unrest was political.

“There is no grievance, nor any political cause, that can justify the violence and destruction,” he said.

South Africa, Africa’s most industrialised country, is deep in an economic malaise, with cripplingly high levels of unemployment. Economic activity has been badly affected by restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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Judge adjourns Kanu’s trial as DSS refuses to bring him to court

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Nnamdi Kanu, rights activist and Biafran pro-independence leader

ABUJA — Binta Nyako, the judge presiding over the trial of Biafran pro-independence leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has adjourned the trial until October 21, 2021.

The judge said the adjournment was due to the refusal of Nigeria’s secret security, Department of State Services (DSS), to bring the separatist leader to court.

Meanwhile, Some lawyers who arrived at the Federal High Court in Abuja for the trial were barred from entering the court.

DSS which denied them entry into court, has disclosed no reason for the undemocratic action, prompting many to ask if the separatist leader will be tried secretly.

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Kanu, whose trial was scheduled to resume today Monday, July 26, 2021, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes for calling for a referendum on an independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

He was seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to Nigeria after fleeing to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed scores of civilians in an attempt to assassinate him.

Many of his supporters, including two foreign journalists, were arrested on Monday at the court premises after international media and numerous media organizations in the country were prevented from covering the trial.

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In south-eastern Nigeria, residents closed markets and some entry points into towns to show solidarity with the detained activist.

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Nigeria bans international media, others from covering Kanu’s trial

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No reason was given by authorities who refused to comment on the sudden violation of press freedom and citizens' rights to monitor a trial.

ABUJA — Nigeria’s Department of State Services has banned international and other media from covering the trial of Biafran pro-independence leader, Nnamdi Kanu, in court.

A statement signed by Chief Information Officer, Catherine Oby Christopher noted that the DSS has only accredited 10 Nigerian media organizations, namely: ThisDay, Premium Times, The Nation, Daily Independent, The Herald, National Television Authority , Continental Television, African Independent Television, Daily Post and Channels Television.

No reason was given by authorities who refused to comment on the sudden violation of press freedom and citizens’ rights to monitor a trial.

Nnamdi Kanu, human rights activist is currently being held in the Nigeria’s Department of State Services detention center in Abuja after being seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the country.

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The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.

Many anxiously await his trial to resume in court Today July 26, 2021.

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Policeman shoots student for not wearing mask in DR Congo

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Security forces standby in Kinshasa during demonstrations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 19 and 20 December 2016.

A Democratic Republic of Congo policeman has shot a student who was not wearing a mask while filming on the streets of the capital, witnesses said on Sunday.

“Our friend Honore Shama, a student in the faculty of arts at the University of Kinshasa, was filming a video as part of his acting practical work requirement,” Patient Odia, a friend who was present at the confrontation, told AFP.

“A policeman told him to wear a mask during the filming.”

“Despite his (Shama’s) explanations and after having showed him a mask, the policeman, who was expecting to be offered money, became infuriated, accused him of resisting and shot him at point-blank range.”

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Other witnesses told a similar story to the popular Top Congo radio as well as several online news sites.

The policeman responsible has fled and the city’s police are searching for him, the head of Kinshasa police, General Sylvano Kasongo, told AFP.

“Police have detained two police officers, present during the incident provoked by their irresponsible colleague… as well as the head” of a local police station, he said.

“The search continues to find the fugitive policeman,” Kasongo said.

Wearing a mask is obligatory in DR Congo, with transgressors fined 10,000 Congolese frances (five dollars, four euros).

In Kinshasa, police are regularly accused of harassment and of pocketing the mask fines they collect.

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DR Congo has registered 47,786 Covid-19 cases and 1,021 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Vaccinations have been halted in the country since July 10, because the AstraZeneca vaccines in stock passed their expiration date.

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