Maxar Technologies has been collecting new satellite imagery of South Africa that shows the scale and intensity of the recent violence and looting that occurred in multiple cities, including Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
The unrest followed protests triggered by the jailing of ex-President Jacob Zuma, who was handed a 15-month jail term for snubbing a corruption investigation.
Mr Zuma, whose home province is KZN, commands support among loyalists in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), who portray him as a champion of the poor.
In scenes that have stunned the nation, looters have casually plundered stores, pharmacies and in one case a blood bank, hauling away goods as police stood by, seemingly powerless to act, news agency AFP reported.
The Maxar satellite imagery shows dozens of grocery and food stores looted and debris scattered around buildings. Crowds can be seen gathered nearby and in a number of locations buildings have been set on fire.
On today’s imagery of Pietermaritzburg, long lines of people can be seen waiting to get food outside the few supermarkets that remain open and queue in their cars waiting to get gas.
President Cyril Ramaphosa today said the week-long spree of violence and pillaging that has shocked South Africa had been “planned” and vowed to hunt down those responsible, as the number of dead from the unrest reached 212.
“It is quite clear that all these incidents of unrest and looting were instigated – there were people who planned it and coordinated it,” Mr Ramaphosa said in a visit to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, the flarepoint for post-apartheid South Africa’s worst crisis.