Summary

Nearly 25,000 troops have been deployed to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces in South Africa, following a week of rioting that has left at least 117 people dead and thousands of businesses looted and razed.

The riots broke out soon after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for contempt of court on charges stemming from an earlier refusal on his part to give evidence in an anti-corruption investigation. However, this catalyzing event obscures more longstanding issues of economic inequality in the country, issues that have come to the fore during COVID-19.  South Africa might be one of the first countries to see such social tensions spill into open conflict, but it won’t be the last.