South African looters raid Durban warehouses as riots escalate

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Looters ransacked warehouses and supermarkets in the South African port city of Durban on Tuesday despite the efforts of heavily outnumbered police.

A Reuters cameraman saw hundreds of people raiding a warehouse belonging to the retailer Game, which sells items including groceries and home appliances. People took everything they could lay their hands on, and some drove off with stolen goods in pick-up trucks with covered number plates.

Vandals also trashed a Makro supermarket and shops in the city centre. Police were overwhelmed and unable to control the rioters.

Aerial footage shot from a helicopter by the local television channel eNCA showed black smoke rising from several warehouses and surrounding roads strewn with debris.

Durban has one of the busiest shipping terminals on the African continent, is home to dozens of industrial parks and is a hub for imports and exports into and out of southern Africa.

The violence was triggered by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma as his supporters took to the streets last week, but the situation has evolved into an outpouring of anger over persistent poverty and inequality, 27 years after the end of apartheid.



Rioters also set fire to a chemical plant close to Umhlanga, a town north of Durban, emergency services said. Firefighters were on the scene trying to prevent the fire spreading to an adjacent clothing factory.