South Africa’s looting, violence reflect inequalities exacerbated by Covid-19 pandemic

South Africa’s looting, violence reflect inequalities exacerbated by Covid-19 pandemic. By Gabriele Steinhauser of Dow Jones.

The unrest started over the weekend, when protests erupted in Mr. Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal over the former president’s arrest for contempt of court. Mr. Zuma, who resigned three years ago but still commands support within the ruling African National Congress, had been sentenced to 15 months in jail for refusing to testify at a government commission investigating allegations of widespread corruption during his nine years in power. He has denied wrongdoing.

By the time the protests reached the city centre and impoverished townships of Johannesburg, residents turned their anger on stores and malls, whose offerings had become increasingly unattainable over the past year as South Africa’s economy sank into its deepest recession on record. Officials and witnesses said some of the looters were experienced criminals, but others just seized on an opportunity to take whatever they could.

The looting and violence are emblematic of the economic and social dislocation the pandemic has unleashed in many developing countries. Governments from Colombia to Lebanon, in addition to South Africa, lack the resources to provide the economic stimulus and social-security programs implemented in richer countries. Limited supplies of Covid-19 shots are also holding back the recovery, as fresh waves of infections continue to overwhelm hospitals and cause thousands of deaths.

The official unemployment rate stood at 33 per cent cent at the end of March, a figure that rises to 43 per cent when discouraged job seekers are included. According to a survey conducted in March and April, more than 10 million out of South Africa’s 60 million citizens had experienced hunger over the past seven days.

The narrative spin on the newswires is that the rioting “reflects inequalities”. Which inequalities would those be — in economic outcomes, or in behavior, morals, and abilities? It’s all a bit vague, isn’t it?

If, as the left insists, blacks are just as able as whites in every respect, why isn’t Africa doing better? Why is South Africa, which used to be at European levels of economic development when run by whites, so obviously succumbing to corruption and ineptitude?

Why is the looting by a certain racial group in South Africa so reminiscent of rioting by the same racial group in the USA last year? Why is their solution to alleged political oppression to steal tv’s, wreck businesses, and drive off entrepreneurs and capital? Why don’t other groups do this?

The narrative isn’t even grappling with the obvious, but just pretends it doesn’t matter and will go away.

A high-trust advanced society? No, it’s a tribal mess.

UPDATE: South African Police are caught looting goods. By Ross Ibbetson.

Footage showed people accosting a man wearing a police jacket beside a hatchback filled with household supplies, including bread, milk and cooking oil. The woman filming says: ‘This is a police officer, in uniform, looting … This is our SAPS (South African Police Service), guys.’

A second video from the same woman showed another purported officer in plain clothes trying to hide his face from the camera after he was hauled out of his car by locals. His vehicle was laden with allegedly looted products, including a flat-screen television.

‘He has looted, he has threatened our lives with firearms, and this is all coming out of his Polo,’ the woman says as she films objects on the ground beside the open car boot.