• Fri. Jul 30th, 2021

Clean-up to mark Nelson Mandela Day

ByAmeerah O'Connor

Jul 18, 2021
Clean-up to mark Nelson Mandela Day

Volunteers have been organising clean-up operations in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces

As South Africans mark Nelson Mandela Day, the president has urged people to honour the legacy of the anti-apartheid hero by helping to rebuild the country after days of riots that left 212 dead.

“The one positive thing I can say is that this incident has united us as never before,” Cyril Ramaphosa said.

People have been posting photos of themselves distributing food to areas most affected by the unrest.

The violence was sparked by the jailing of ex-President Jacob Zuma.

He handed himself in to police on 7 July to serve a 15-month sentence for contempt of court.

The 79-year-old was found guilty for failing to appear before an inquiry to answer questions about corruption during his presidency.

On Monday, Mr Zuma is due to attend – via video link – another corruption trial in relation to a $5bn (£3bn) arms deal from the 1990s.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his lawyers are now calling for a postponement because of the violence.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, died at the age of 95 in 2013, when Zuma was president.

Each year on what would be Mandela’s birthday – 18 July – people are urged to spend 67 minutes helping others, to mark his 67 years of public service.

Mr Ramaphosa has spent the day in Gauteng province touring Soweto, South Africa’s largest township and once home to Mr Mandela.

He has been taking part in the clean-up after mayhem which saw thousands of people ransacking malls.

Small businesses, warehouses, factories, clinics and schools in the two provinces of Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng were also targeted – a level of violence unprecedented in post-apartheid South Africa.

Debris was strewn all over the streets and some communities have had to travel long distances to buy basics.

In Durban, the main city of KwaZulu-Natal, the authorities are also investigating a chemical spill possibly linked to a warehouse fire after dead fish were spotting washing ashore.

A member of a spill cleaning crew removes dead fish from the river in the uMhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve in Durban on July 18, 2021.

Dead fish have been washing ashore in Durban

The unrest has now largely subsided and the deployment of 25,000 soldiers is expected to be completed by the end of the weekend.

Mr Ramaphosa, who says the violence was orchestrated, has faced criticism for acting too late.

Amid the chaos people armed themselves and formed vigilante groups to protect their property.

But during his tour of Soweto, the president said he was impressed by South Africans’ resilience – reflecting Mr Mandela’s spirit.

More about South Africa’s riots:

Click here to see the BBC interactive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *