Countries watch as South Africa tear itself apart

Many businesses have been wiped out and destroyed after angry mobs looted every shop in Soweto’s famous Ndofaya, Jabulani, Dobsonville malls and beyond. Business owners stood outside their doors and pleaded with agitators to spare the enterprises that many said they had spent their life savings to build.

Business across the country suffered destruction within a few weeks as protesters unleashed their anger over the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma, who is currently serving a 15 months jail sentence for contempt of court after defying a court order to testify at a state-backed inquiry investigating allegations of corruption during his 2009-2018 presidency.

Looters peddled stones and other objects at the police while waiting for a chance to enter the cordoned-off premises. Footage of empty or sparse grocery store shelves has been a staple of local news reports since the looting began, while banks and retail chains such as Pick n Pay stores and Checkers supermarket closed many outlets altogether.

In several shopping centres and malls, people crawled through the partially shattered exterior windows of different stores and came out running and carrying different gears and electronical appliances. In Dobsonville Mall, they ignited garbage cans and broke locks on luxury stores, sweeping up armfuls of items including clothes and groceries.

Regardless of who the perpetrators were, many store owners said they felt like victims of misplaced aggression. They mentioned that their businesses, already ailing from the outbreak of the Corona virus that has been particularly devastating to small enterprises that may never recover.

Hundreds of social media users engaged in thoughtful, civil discussions in various circles about the brewing and burning issues pervading communities. Whilst residents expressed grief, anger, fear and despair, many among them maintained hope that their generation could somehow make a difference. In the middle of overlapping crises, former president Jacob Zuma’s incarceration set in a motion chain of events that continues to reverberate across the country. Though much remains unchanged, ripples from the year’s uprisings have disrupted the tides of normalcy.

Thapelo Magola Soweto Sunrise News