Peace gradually returns to South Africa

A policeman sits on cases of beer abandoned by looters near a warehouse storing alcohol in Durban on July 16, 2021 after protestors clashed with police following a week of unrest in South Africa. (GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP)

JOHANNESBURG – Life is gradually returning to normal in South Africa as volunteers and communities started cleaning the looting debris, shops were reopened, and trucks returned to main highways.

Most shops in Johannesburg's center were still repairing damaged infrastructure Saturday. Only a few shops like Cambridge Supermarket were open.

Most shops in Johannesburg's center were still repairing damaged infrastructure Saturday. Only a few shops like Cambridge Supermarket were open

In Alexandra, a township in Johannesburg, which was severely ravaged in last week's violence, people were busy clearing the debris. There were long queues of people who try to buy food from the few shops which were still open.

South African police and soldiers maintained a heavy presence in some malls and the country's key points.

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According to local media reports, at least 20 different businesses, non-governmental and non-profit organizations have joined hands in distributing 40,000 loaves of bread and 40,000 liters of milk to communities impacted by violence and looting in the greater Durban area. Some chartered flights carrying necessities such as nappies and formula milk flew from Johannesburg and surrounding areas to Durban.

After the reopening of N3 highway, hundreds of trucks left Johannesburg early Saturday, loaded with food and other essential goods to replenish KwaZulu-Natal's looted stores.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) chairperson Angelique Coetzee welcomed the opening of N3.

"The unrest has undoubtedly had an impact on the provision of healthcare in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and a speedy return to law and order is now needed to ensure we can begin to start providing proper and effective healthcare in that province again. There are also fuel stations in KZN which are dedicating lanes and pumps to healthcare and other essential workers; these steps are critical to ensure the continuation of the provision of health and emergency services and these fuel stations must be applauded for their foresight," she said.

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The latest official figures showed 212 people were killed in last week's unrest in the eastern provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, triggered by the imprisonment of former South African president Jacob Zuma, with roads being blocked, properties and vehicles damaged and burned.