"This was too painful to watch," one social media user said.
As violence took over the streets of her city, a mother had no choice but to throw her baby from a burning building and hope that the child would land in the arms of safety. The gut-wrenching moment took place in Durban, South Africa, where riots and clashes began after the former president, Jacob Zuma, was put in jail. Amidst the chaos, the helpless mother was captured throwing her baby from the edge of a building after looters allegedly set fires in the area, according to BBC. Thankfully, a crowd of people had gathered below the building. And the baby was safely caught by passersby, who were at the right place at the right time.
Soon, people also began helping other residents and fetched ladders to bring adults and children out of the building. The ground-floor shops of the same apartment block were ransacked, and looters reportedly started fires in the area. Rescue services also arrived to put out the fires on that violent Tuesday afternoon on July 13, 2021.
Eventually, the baby thrown from the building was reunited with the mother, who was too emotional at the time to speak to the media.
This was too painful to watch💔💔 pic.twitter.com/WL964kZUWH— Katlie_Moo▪️ (@Katlie_Moo) July 13, 2021
The violence first broke out after Zuma handed himself over to authorities and began serving out his 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court. Since then, around 72 people have lost their lives whereas 1,234 people have been arrested, as reported by BBC. The widespread destruction saw restaurants being ransacked, ATMs being broken into, and other business outlets being looted and left in ramshackles. A day before the toddler was thrown from the building, the city lost 10 people in a stampede that took place during a looting at a shopping center in Soweto.
"It is such a mixed bag because some other people are just taking advantage so they can grab things they could not have before," said Susan Booysen, director for research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, as quoted by The Associated Press. "There is poverty and inequality. We also know that some are criminals looking to benefit. Often legitimate protests are exploited for that purpose."
South Africa has been rocked by violence and looting for five consecutive days, with more than 70 people killed and over 1,200 arrested as authorities struggle to quell the worst unrest in decades.— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 14, 2021
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On Monday, July 12, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation and said, "What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft." "This moment has thrown into stark relief what we already knew: that the level of unemployment, poverty and inequality in our society is unsustainable," the president went on to say. "We cannot expect a lasting and durable peace if we do not create jobs and build a more just and equitable society in which all South Africans can participate freely and equally."
Urging the people of South Africa to steer clear of violence, Ramaphosa added, "Together, we will defeat those who seek to destabilize our country. We will stand as one people, united against violence, unanimous in our commitment to peace and to the rule of law."
Cover image source: BBC News (World)/Twitter