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Death toll hits 72 as violence, looting spreads in South Africa

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President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa

 

Stores and warehouses in South Africa were hit by looters Tuesday for a fifth day running despite the troops President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed to try to quell unrest that has claimed 72 lives.

As pillaging erupted in the economic capital of Johannesburg and the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’s main opposition accused radicals of stoking the unrest.

The armed forces were sending 2,500 soldiers to help the overwhelmed police.

But these numbers are dwarfed by the more than 70,000 troops deployed to enforce last year’s coronavirus lockdown, and only a handful of soldiers were seen at some shopping centres.

The raging unrest first erupted last Friday after former president Jacob Zuma started serving a 15-month term for contempt, having snubbed a probe into the corruption that stained his nine years in power.

By the weekend, it started spreading to Gauteng province.

“The total number of people who have lost their lives since the beginning of these protests … has risen to 72,” the police said in a statement late Tuesday.

Most of the deaths “relate to stampedes that occurred during incidents of looting of shops”, it said.

Others were linked to shootings and explosions of bank ATMs.

The number of arrests has risen to 1,234, although many thousands have been involved in the ransacking sprees.

Looting ‘for my mum’

Earlier TV footage showed dozens of women, some wearing their dressing gowns, men and even children strolling into a butcher in Soweto, coming out balancing heavy boxes of frozen meat on their heads or shoulders.

Police showed up three hours later and fired rubber bullets. Soldiers eventually followed.

In Alexandra township north of Johannesburg, hundreds of people streamed in and out of a shopping mall, freely grabbing groceries.

Looters who spoke to AFP said they had got caught up in the rush, or saw the chance to ease a life blighted by poverty.

“I’m really not concerned about Zuma. He is a corrupt old man that deserves to be in jail,” said a 30-year-old man who works at a car wash.

He admitted to “taking things from the shop for my mum” — stainless-steel pots, meat and groceries.

In Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal’s capital, people hauled boxed refrigerators through bushes to a long line of cars that were parked along a highway.

In Durban, aerial footage showed hundreds of people looting a large shopping centre and carting off huge boxes of goods.

A woman was seen throwing her baby from the first floor of a building to save her from fire after shops below her apartment were set on fire. The child safely landed with a group of people on the street.

‘Anarchy’

In his nationwide address Monday night, Ramaphosa lashed “opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft”.

“The path of violence, of looting and anarchy, leads only to more violence and devastation,” Ramaphosa said.

The chair of the African Union Commission condemned “the surge of violence that has resulted in the deaths of civilians and appalling scenes of the looting”, calling “for an urgent restoration of order”.

The largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, announced Tuesday it would file criminal charges against Zuma’s children and the leader of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema.

In a statement, the party accused them of using “social media to express comments which appear to encourage and incite the violence and looting.”

Once dubbed the “Teflon president”, Zuma was handed the jail term on June 29 by the Constitutional Court for bucking an order to appear before a commission probing the graft that proliferated under his administration.

He started serving the term on Thursday after handing himself in to authorities.

He is seeking to have the ruling set aside.

Zuma popularity

Zuma, 79, is a former anti-apartheid fighter who spent 10 years in jail in the notorious Robben Island jail off Cape Town.

He rose in democratic South Africa to vice president and then president, before being ousted by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 2018 as scandals proliferated.

But he remains popular among many poor South Africans, especially grassroots members of the ANC, who portray him as a defender of the disadvantaged.

South Africa is deep in an economic malaise, with cripplingly high levels of unemployment. Economic activity had already been badly affected by restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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Crypto is a danger to world economy, tool for money laundry- EFCC Boss

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Advancement in digital assets such as cryptocurrencies increasingly portends huge risks to the world economy, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has said.

This, according to Bawa, is partly because, many criminals now play significant roles in crypto-currency markets. He said the virtual currencies had become their preferred mediums of exchange.

Bawa spoke while delivering his keynote address Monday at the 38th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, themed, ‘Economic Crime-Who pays and who should pay?’

The event was organised by the Centre for International Documentation on Organised and Economic Crime (CIDOEC), Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who captured some highlights of the event in a statement, quoting Bawa as saying, “The developments in new technologies and the growth of cryptocurrencies portrays a far greater danger to the world economy than ever before with many criminals playing significant roles in crypto-currency markets.

“Criminals now elect to transact or receive illegal monies (such as ransom money) for

cyber-attacks in cryptocurrencies with Bitcoins and Ethereum as the most commonly used mediums for these exchanges.”

He lamented that “the sophistication and complexity that defines the dynamics of economic crime in the 21st Century continues to evolve, spurred by technological advancement in the global economy that has become borderless and transnational.”

This he said had “inevitably led to the prioritisation of law enforcement action on crimes that drive Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) across the globe”.

‘No nation is immune’

According to the EFCC Boss, “economic crimes which are largely illegal acts committed for private gain affect the vital structures of global economies, causing significant damage to the Global Financial System and depriving developing nations of the needed resources for sustainable development”.

He noted that developed countries are not immune to the scourge, which, according to him, has “magnified with the proliferation of cyber-crimes which threatens the stability of Global Financial Institutions.”

Bawa said the platform of the event provided an opportunity to interrogate the challenges of economic crimes.

“As the victims of crime continue to suffer globally from the effects of financial crimes, either directly or indirectly as part of a social system, the determination of who pays or who should pay becomes a critical measure of the criminal justice system in place.”

He underlined the imperatives of an impartial judiciary in ensuring that “the perpetrators of acts and not the victims pay for their crimes.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had barred commercial banks and other financial institutions from transacting with cryptocurrency in fear of the risks it poses to investments and the economy at large.

Despite these actions, there have been reports over the use of these digital or virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and others, with criminals turning it to a haven to launder proceeds of corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, and other heinous crimes.

PRecall that last month that the United States Department of Justice training over 50 Nigerian investigators and prosecutors to tackle cryptocurrency-enabled organised crimes.

Efforts to fight crypto-related crimes

While highlighting some of the transparency and accountability achievements of the current administration by President Muhammadu Buhari, Bawa pointed out that the EFCC, as the rallying point in the fight against economic crimes in Nigeria, has recorded important milestones in investigations, prosecutions and assets recovery.

“Since its establishment in 2003, the Commission has recorded no less than 3,500 convictions and recovered assets of significant value including properties in Nigeria, the UK, USA, and the UAE. All these have measurably contributed to the national efforts against economic crimes in Nigeria,” he said.

The EFCC charged participants to come up with practical solutions to curb the international threat of economic crimes.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the symposium, Saul Froomkin, thanked the EFCC boss for his insightful presentation, and the support received from Nigeria in organising the event.

Participants at the symposium were drawn from law enforcement and security agencies, accountability institutions and partners across the world.

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SuperTV CEO: Lagos DPP to charge Chidinma Ojukwu, two others

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A Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State has adjourned to sept 29, further hearing in the murder of Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV.

A 21-year-old student, Chidinma Ojukwu and one Adedapo Quadri were again presented. before the Chief Magistrate, Adeola Adedayo on Monday after they were ordered to be remanded for thirty days at the Kirikiri Correctional Centre last month.

Police Prosecutor, Cyril Ejiofor, informed the court that the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution had issued a legal advice on the case, recommending their trial for murder which implies that the case will now be heard at the high court of Lagos state which has jurisdiction to hear matters of this nature

She, however, adjourned the case to await further Information from the DPP as to the status of the case at the high court that will now hear the matter.

The News Beat also gathered that the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Olayinka Adeyemi, recommended the release of four persons who are also standing trial at the Magistrate court for obstruction of justice and dishonestly receiving stolen belongings of the deceased .

The four persons are Babalola Disu, Olowu Ifeoluwa, Olutayo Abayomi, Nkechi Mogbo, Ojukwu Onoh, who is said to be Chidinma’s adopted father.

One Egbuchu Chioma who was allegedly found in possession of the deceased’s iPhone 7, and who had initially refused to release the phone on demand, is however to continue her trial.

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Omoyele Sowore’s younger brother shot dead

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A file combo photo of Omoyele and Olajide Sowore

Sahara Reporters Publisher and ex-presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, has narrated how kidnappers shot dead his brother in the Okada area of Edo State on Saturday.

According to him, Olajide was killed in the early hours of Saturday on his way from the Igbinedion University where he was studying Pharmacy.

Sowore, in a tribute on his Facebook page, described his deceased brother who almost clocked 50 as an “out-of-the-box thinker”

He wrote, “My immediate younger brother, Olajide Sowore was today shot and killed near Okada in Edo state by reportedly herdsmen /kidnappers on his way from Igbinedion University in Edo sate where he is studying Pharmacy.

“They snuffed out the life yet another real human being!

“Rest In Power, “Dr. Mamiye!”

“This act in itself will not delay their day of justice.

“I travelled widely with you and our father as a little kid. You were the most loved robust kid I ever first knew. You, Mr. magnet had no enemy!

“You, Mr. Sunshine Foundation who made everyone happy.

“You, the boy who snuck out his older ones to parties, taking all the blames when our disciplinarian father found out.

“You, the guy who was an out-of-the-box thinker who decided school wasn’t for you and created you own genre of music and then turned around to go to school after you almost turned 50!

“You lived your life so that everyone could be alright but now assassinated by everything that’s not alright!

“Saddest day yet!”

Details later…

 

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