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Mon Jul 19, 2021, 11:32 AM

After deadly riots in South Africa, army of volunteers leads defense, cleanup efforts

DURBAN, South Africa — Noxious smoke from days of riots and widespread looting hovered over parts of this lush seaside city over the weekend as residents came onto the streets to defend their homes and businesses from further violence.

“We need to stand (our) ground,” Margaret Westerhof, 42, told NBC News at a volunteer-erected traffic checkpoint on the edge of the suburb of Ballito. Normally an interior designer, Westerhof offered to serve as a media liaison for the community organization that sprung up in response to the unrest.

“It's our duty to continue to support the local authorities … to patrol our areas, keep our businesses safe,” she added.

Nationwide protests began with the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma on July 7. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after failing to appear before an inquiry investigating corruption and state capture during his administration.


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