Overnight looting in several towns and cities linked to #Free Zuma protests has exposed the limitations of the South African police.
Even as President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night extended the Covid-19 prevention regulations that prevent gatherings, huge mobs ransacked shops, torched haulage trucks, and blockaded roads.
Looters ignored Ramaphosa’s warning that lawlessness would not be tolerated and would be met with the full might of the law.
In Eshowe, Eastern Cape, stone-throwing protesters on Monday morning chased police away from a Spar before they vandalised and looted the shop.
As much as police did their best to protect property and avoid excessive force, it was clear they were simply not enough boots on the ground.
Shops in Durban were looted and vandalised. It was the same in Johannesburg.
Where they could, police arrested huge numbers of looters, some were found inside shops. More than 200 suspects have been arrested and at least six people are thought to have died in the violent protests.
Four policemen have been shot and injured. The government was said to be considering deploying the army to help the police to restore order.
Bus and taxi services in affected areas have been put on hold. The Gautrain and Rea Vaya bus services have been suspended..
However, with no let-up in the looting it remains to be seen if the violent protests will help Zuma’s bid to be freed.
Former president Jacob Zuma’s application for a review of his prison sentence will be before the Constitutional Court on Monday.