Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse mobs that raided grocery stores in South African cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth during the coronavirus lockdown. The country has one of the strictest lockdowns in the world.

Riots have reportedly broken out in severely crowded areas of some cities as people scramble for essential supplies. There have been incidents of running battles with the police and burning of tyres as barricades.

According to a report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the virus could spread throughout the continent if stricter protective measure are not enforced. A total number of 20,000 cases and 1,000 deaths have been recorded throughout the continent so far.

Sale of all non-essential items, including alcohol and cigarettes, is banned. According to The Sun, people are breaking into shops, attacking each other amid a worsening food crisis. South Africa is running out of food supplies as it enters the fourth week of the lockdown imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to curb the spread of the virus.

South African President
South African President Wikimedia Commons

Long food lines

Poor residents are joining long queues at food distribution points in Johannesburg. "When we started out feeding people we started out with the very vulnerable, the children, the disabled people and the pensioners," said Fredericks who distributes food parcels. The Sun also reported police firing rubber bullets at nurses who protested over working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Director of emergencies at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Dominique Burgeon said the number of people who are on the verge of being extremely vulnerable is already very high. They are worried that the number will further grow due to the effect of Covid-19 on food supply.

"The level of need was already extremely high. The one thing they did not need was one more shock. We are very concerned," Burgeon said. South Africa recorded its highest number of 251 new cases and two deaths on Saturday taking the total number of cases to 3,034 with 52 fatalities.