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Further South African unrest disrupts Gen Z schooling

Chaos in South Africa as former president Zuma begins his prison sentence is affecting the lives and education of young people across the country.

Last Friday, South Africa saw large scale disruption after former president Zuma began his 15 month prison sentence.

Zuma was handed the jail term on June 29th by the Constitutional Court for refusing to appear at an inquiry into corruption during his time in office. He started serving the jail term on Thursday after handing himself in to authorities.

At least 45 people are believed to have died in last week’s chaos in parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng, according to numbers released by the two provinces.

Stores were ransacked on Tuesday for a fifth consecutive day, hours after current president Cyril Ramaphosa deployed troops in a bid to quell the unrest.

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala confirmed that 26 people – including a 15-year-old boy – were killed in the fiery chaos engulfing parts of his province.

‘As a province, we’re going through a lot of pain and difficulty,’ he said.

His counterpart in Gauteng, David Makhura, announced that at least 10 people have died in a stampede at a shopping mall in Meadowlands, Soweto.

Speaking outside the mall, Makhura said that ‘to the residents of Gauteng, the looting and the violence will impact everything.’

‘These 10 people who lost their lives are family members who were out there, came out, some of them just joined into the looting.’

‘I want to say to the people of our province that we understand. Those who are unemployed, there are lots of young people who are unemployed, we understand that situation… but the looting is something we must stop because it is undermining every effort.’

Pretoria, the centre for child law, has called on the SAPS to remain compliant with laws and punishments for minors when arresting those under the age of 18.

‘We urge law enforcement officials to enforce and comply with the standards set out in the Child Justice Act when dealing with a child alleged to be in conflict with the law. They need to be mindful that a child need not be detained unless it is a matter of last resort,’ Karabo Ozah of the centre said.

She added that where the release from detention is impossible, it must at least be for the shortest period of time possible. Whilst in detention, children must be separated from adults, and girls must be separated from boys.

‘Pragmatic steps must be taken in order to ensure the safe release of a child from detention into the care and custody of the caregiver pending appearance in the appropriate forum.’

The centre in particular condemned the voluntary or encouraged participation of children in these unlawful conducts.

‘Children are amongst the most vulnerable groups in society. Their human rights are prone to be affected by the actions and decisions of their caregivers, parents or guardians,’ Ozah said.

Currently, in most parts of the country, schools are shut and education remains inaccessible. The unrest has sparked further fear in children who are already facing it hard – with schooling largely taking a backseat.

The killing of young people is a prominent issue in South Africa and remains a major concern for Gen Zers throughout the region.

At least 757 people have been arrested, Police Minister Bheki Cele told a news conference, with most of the arrests taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa’s economic capital.

Sounding a note of optimism, however, he insisted the police would ensure the situation ‘does not deteriorate any further.’

In his nationwide address Monday night, Ramaphosa condemned ‘opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft. The path of violence, of looting and anarchy, leads only to more violence and devastation.’

We’ll have to see if South Africa’s educational facilities can recover – and if Gen Z’s quality of life improves over the course of this year.

 

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