Dec 18 · Last update 1 mo. ago.

What is driving poverty and violent looting in South Africa?

During the COVID pandemic numerous instances of food and liquor stores being looted took place across South Africa, but this is no new problem for the country in 2019 widespread looting and rioting hit Johannesburg. On paper, South Africa should be a somewhat stable country, it is home to the second biggest economy in Africa and is the world’s 33rd largest, however inequality, crime and especially violent looting have continually plagued the country. The two issues of poverty and looting are obviously linked, but how has South Africa’s unique situation driven this combined phenomenon and made rioting and looting and increasingly common occurrence? What is making South Africa seem an increasingly unstable country? What is behind such high levels of poverty, and such prevalent looting?
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Xenophobic violence
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Xenophobic violence

While looting has taken place at various times and has a number of factors xenophobia seems an ever-present element, and one that seems to increasingly factor into rioting and violence in the country. Xenophobia was indeed thought to the main driving force behind the 2008 riots and this was repeated in the 2015 Johannesburg riots, however the country is also littered with permanent murder hotspots that often see the army deployed to control escalating violence. In some ways xenophobic violence stems from the legacy of apartheid, after apartheid ended in 1994 incidences of xenophobia increased contrary to common expectation, but some in the government have also promoted blaming foreigners for social problems such as unemployment and drug issues.

aljazeera.com/news/2019/7/19/cape-town-army-deployment-not-a-long-term-solution dw.com/en/south-africa-is-more-unequal-than-ever-20-years-after-the-post-apartheid-trc/a-46059235 hrw.org/news/2019/04/15/south-africa-attacks-foreign-nationals aljazeera.com/news/2019/9/8/one-killed-five-wounded-in-new-johannesburg-violence web.archive.org/web/20091124132407/http://www.hsrc.ac.za/Document-2994.phtml

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