Death toll rises to five in South African riots; 200 arrested

Two more people have been killed during rioting against South Africa's ruling party in Pretoria, bringing the death toll to five, police said on Thursday.

Two bodies were found at a shopping mall in the low-income neighbourhood of Mabopane on Thursday morning, according to police.

Two other bodies had been discovered in the Mamelodi neighbourhood on Wednesday. Another person had been shot in a business district and died at a hospital on Sunday.

Police said the five deaths were linked to the violence, which began Sunday and has led to the arrests of nearly 200 people.

The rioting was initially sparked by the governing African National Congress (ANC) party's choice for Pretoria's mayoral candidate, who was criticized as not being familiar with local affairs because she came from another province.

Protesters torched dozens of buses, according to the broadcaster eNCA, and streets were littered with rubbish after containers were overturned.

The protests had escalated into the looting of foreigner-owned shops in the area, Home Affairs Department spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete told dpa, saying "criminals" had taken advantage of the opportunity.

South Africa faced a wave of xenophobic violence against immigrants from other African countries in April 2015, when nine people were killed and thousands fled.

The violence in Pretoria was seen as a reflection of the divisions within the ANC before President Jacob Zuma faces a popularity test in local elections in August.

Zuma defeated impeachment proceedings in April despite the Constitutional Court ruling that he had violated the constitution when not repaying part of a sum of about 15 million dollars used to upgrade his rural homestead in the town of Nkandla.

The 74-year-old president has also faced criticism over his decision to sack popular finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, as well as over his alleged friendship with the controversial Gupta business family.

Last update: Thu, 23/06/2016 - 18:46
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