Pandemic pace slows worldwide except for southeast Asia, eastern Mediterranean: WHO

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – The COVID-19 pandemic is still expanding, but the rise in cases and deaths has slowed globally, except for southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean regions, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

In its latest epidemiological update, issued on Monday night, it said that the Americas remains the hardest-hit region, accounting for half of newly reported cases and 62% of the 39,240 deaths worldwide in the past week.

More than 23.65 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 811,895‚Äč have died, according to a Reuters tally on Tuesday.

“Over 1.7 million new COVID-19 cases and 39,000 new deaths were reported to WHO for the week ending 23 August, a 4% decrease in the number of cases and (a 12% decrease) in the number of deaths compared to the previous week,” the WHO said.

Southeast Asia, the second most affected region, reported a jump accounting for 28% of new cases and 15% of deaths, it said. India continues to report the majority of cases, but the virus is also spreading rapidly in Nepal.

In WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region, the number of reported cases rose by 4%, but the number of reported deaths has consistently dropped over the last six weeks, the WHO said. Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan reported the highest increase in cases compared to the previous week.

The number of cases and deaths reported across Africa decreased by 8% and 11% respectively in the past week, “primarily due to a decrease in cases reported in Algeria, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa”, it said.

“In the European region, the number of cases reported has consistently increased over the last three weeks,” it said. “However, only a slight decrease (1%) was reported in the most recent week, and the number of deaths have continued to decrease across the region.”

In WHO’s western Pacific region, the number of new cases dropped by 5%, driven by less spread in Japan, Australia, Singapore, China and Vietnam. South Korea reported an 180% jump in cases, “mainly due to an increase in cases associated with religious gatherings”.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Giles Elgood)

Novavax begins mid-stage study of COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa

(Reuters) – U.S. drug developer Novavax Inc said on Monday it started a mid-stage study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa, as the country experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.

South Africa is the fifth worst affected country with 583,653 coronavirus cases and 11,677 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

“Because South Africa is experiencing a winter surge of COVID-19 disease, this important Phase 2b clinical trial has the potential to provide an early indication of efficacy,” Novavax research chief Gregory Glenn said.

The trial of Novavax’s NVX-CoV2373, backed by a $15 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was being conducted in two separate groups, one comprising 2,665 healthy volunteers and the other, 240 HIV-positive adults.

Novavax expects its vaccine, once approved, would be supplied to South Africa through a deal signed earlier this year with the Serum Institute of India to develop and commercialize NVX-CoV2373.

The vaccine candidate is one of nearly 30 globally being tested in human clinical trials.

Early-stage data from a small clinical trial of the vaccine has shown that it produced high levels of virus-fighting antibodies, and the company aims to begin larger studies to obtain regulatory approvals as early as December.

Novavax intends to begin Phase 2 of the small clinical trial in the United States and Australia in the near future and said it would include about 1,500 candidates. It also aims to begin Phase III as soon as late September.

The U.S. government in July awarded Novavax $1.6 billion to cover testing its potential coronavirus vaccine in the United States and manufacturing with the aim of delivering a 100 million doses by January.

(Reporting by Sabahatjahan Contractor and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Shinjini Ganguli)

WHO reports record daily increase in global coronavirus cases, up over 292,000

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Friday, with the total rising by 292,527.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa, according to a daily report. Deaths rose by 6,812. The four countries have dominated global headlines with large outbreaks.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 284,196 on July 24. Deaths rose by 9,753 on July 24, the second largest one-day increase ever. Deaths have been averaging 5,200 a day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.

Nearly 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the last week, around double the number that did so the previous week, according to a Reuters tally showing a pick-up in the pandemic in every region of the world.

Cases have been on the rise also in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Uzbekistan and Israel, among others.

Last week, cases in Latin America for the first time surpassed the combined infections in the United States and Canada, a Reuters tally showed. Infections are surging in Brazil, which is second in the world behind the United States in cases and deaths.

Globally there are over 17.4 million infections and nearly 675,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Howard Goller)

Global coronavirus cases exceed 15 million: Reuters tally

By Jane Wardell and Gayle Issa

SYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) – Global coronavirus infections surged past 15 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, with the pandemic gathering pace even as countries remain divided in their response to the crisis.

In the United States, which has the highest number of cases in the world with 3.91 million infections, President Donald Trump warned: “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.”

The top five countries with the most cases is rounded out by Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa. But, the Reuters tally shows the disease is accelerating the fastest in the Americas, which account for more than half the world’s infections and half its deaths.

Globally, the rate of new infections shows no sign of slowing, according to the Reuters tally, based on official reports.

After the first COVID-19 case was reported in Wuhan, China, in early January, it took about 15 weeks to reach 2 million cases. By contrast, it took just eight days to climb above 15 million from the 13 million reached on July 13.

Health experts stress that official data almost certainly under-reports both infections and deaths, particularly in countries with limited testing capacity.

The official number of coronavirus cases at 15,009,213 is at least triple the number of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to World Health Organization data, while the death toll of more than 616,000 in seven months is close to the upper range of yearly influenza deaths.

RELAX OR TIGHTEN

With the first wave of the virus still to peak in several countries and a resurgence of case numbers in others, some countries are reintroducing strict social distancing measures while others relax restrictions.

Stung by low approval ratings for his handling of the epidemic and downplaying the risks during the early stages, Trump made a significant shift in rhetoric on Tuesday, encouraging Americans to wear a face mask.

While the epidemic worsened in the United States, Trump’s focus ahead of a presidential election in November has been on reopening the economy, and governors in the hard-hit states of Texas, Florida and Georgia continue to push back hard against calls for stricter restrictions.

In Brazil, more than 2.15 million people have tested positive including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 81,000 people have died. While Bolsonaro has played down the outbreak, its scale has made Brazil a prime testing ground for potential vaccines.

India, the only other country with more than 1 million cases, reported almost 40,000 new cases on Wednesday. Having been keen to reopen its economy, India is now facing the twin challenge of combating the pandemic and massive flooding in the country’s northeast.

Two ministers in South Africa’s cabinet were admitted to hospital with COVID-19, as Africa’s most-industrialized country counted a total 372,628 confirmed cases and 5,173 deaths.

Other countries are reintroducing restrictions in response to fresh outbreaks.

In Spain, the number of people allowed on Barcelona’s beaches was limited after crowds flocked to the seaside over the weekend despite advice to stay home.

In Australia, residents of Melbourne, the country’s second biggest city, were ordered to wear masks in public from Wednesday after the country reported a record 501 new cases.

Officials in Canada were closely watching a spike in cases as the economy reopens, attributing the rise in part to large numbers of young people gathering in bars.

China, meanwhile, announced that passengers on inbound flights must provide negative COVID-19 test results before boarding, as authorities seek to reduce the risk of imported cases amid increased international travel.

(Reporting By Jane Wardell and Gayle Issa; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Girl’s drowning sparks water riot in thirsty South African township

By Mfuneko Toyana

QWAQWA, South Africa (Reuters) – Eight-year-old Musa and her older sister Moleboheng trudged down the ravine with buckets and drum bottles to fetch water from a filthy stream because they were thirsty and tired of waiting for trucks meant to deliver emergency water that never showed up.

But Musa never returned, her mother Phindile Mbele recalled, choking back tears. The little girl drowned in the stream, which is thick with sewage, mud and algae, probably pulled down by a strong underwater current.

“We rushed down there. She was still under the water… Two boys from the neighborhood went in and one carried her out,” Mbele said. “The house is empty without her. She was such a sweet, quiet child”.

Musa’s death last month further enflamed the mood among residents of Mandela Park township on the edge of Qwaqwa in South Africa, turning intermittent protests over water shortages into a full-blown, week-long riot.

Protesters torched shops, overturned government vehicles and hurled bricks and bottles at riot police who responded with rubber bullets.

South Africans have protested for years over unreliable supplies of water and power, but chronic mismanagement has been compounded by the effects of last year’s drought, the worst in a century, which has been linked to climate change.

“It rains here all the time but they say there’s drought. Then how did that little girl drown because that stream was full?” said Malgas “Skinny” John, 39, who used rocks and burning tyres during the January riot to barricade the road leading into Qwaqwa in a face-off with police.

“We have to strike and burn things, only then do we get water,” said the unemployed father of two, as he queued with neighbors to fill his container from a water truck.

Locals, some wearing an African National Congress (ANC) t-shirt, stand in the queue for water at Marakong village, in the Free State province, South Africa, February 5, 2020. Picture taken February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

“We’ll do it again, we’ll keep burning things if we have to,” John added.

Officials fear riots like the one seen at Qwaqwa could be a sign of worsening climate-linked instability to come, as dams and water pipes deteriorate further and the urban population continues to mushroom.

South Africa’s water minister Lindiwe Sisulu has promised 3 billion rand ($203 million) to end the shortages in Qwaqwa. Its municipality owes half a billion rand for water, out of a national unpaid bill of nearly 9 billion rand.

But even Sisulu’s own department has a 3.5 billion rand shortfall in maintenance funds, which it says risks a “detrimental impact on the national economy”, especially if water supplies to the thirsty power utility Eskom and liquid fuel maker Sasol are disrupted.

“We’ve been drinking this brown, filthy water since 2016,” said little Musa’s mother Mbele.

“Nothing will change. I know, soon, I will have to go the same stream where my daughter died to get water.”

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

Rape map and murdered women – welcome to South Africa’s Republic of Sexual Abuse

By Kim Harrisberg

JOHANNESBURG (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It has its own currency, passports and a blood-stained map, but this is no ordinary country. Welcome to the Republic of Sexual Abuse, the creation of a group of campaigners in South Africa, where a woman is murdered every three hours.

The fictional country is the centrepiece of an exhibition held in a Johannesburg mall that seeks to raise awareness of South Africa’s high levels of violence against women – and inspire action against it.

It was thought up by Roanna Williams, executive creative director of the advertising agency Black River FC, after she saw women protesting against the violence from her office window.

“Most women in South Africa have a story of sexual abuse,” said Williams at the exhibition, which opened on Nov. 26 to coincide with the United Nations’ 16 days of activism campaign against gender-based violence.

“We are not just trying to shock, we are showing that this is everyone’s problem and we all need to act, not just during 16 Days of Activism, but 365 days of the year.”

Recent murders, rapes and kidnappings of South African women sparked mass protests in September where women called for justice for rape survivors.

Soon after, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a five-point plan to tackle violence against women, including media campaigns, strengthening the criminal justice system, and providing training for healthcare workers and counsellors.

The exhibition, run together with women’s rights group People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), includes a huge red map painted in fake blood with all the excuses men use to rape women – including “I was drunk”.

At the back of the exhibition, a warning sign marks the entrance to a bedroom where blood stained sheets hide behind a curtain. Recordings of cries and slaps fill the room.

“This room is where reality kicks in for people in the exhibition,” said Patricia Naha, a volunteer and counsellor with POWA, adding it showed women were not safe anywhere.

About 3,000 women in South Africa were murdered in 2018 – one every three hours and more than five times higher than the global average, according to the World Health Organization.

The number of recorded murders of women went up 11% between 2017 and 2018.

A video advertising South Africa as a tourist destination is played on repeat, with images of the country overlaid with jarring narration about sexual violence.

“Retreat to the spectacular bushveld,” a voice is heard saying over a video of zebra running through a national park. “Where women are dumped after being murdered,” the sentence continues.

Some men visiting the exhibition get defensive, said Clayton Swartz, Black River FC’s art director, but many leave taking pamphlets and asking how they can help.

“I am proud to be South African, but not with these rape stats,” said Swartz. “We want to encourage everyone to speak out.”

The exhibition, which has so far attracted thousands of visitors, is open until Dec. 10 at Rosebank Mall and the organisers are seeking corporate sponsors to help them take it across the country.

(Reporting by Kim Harrisberg @kimharrisberg; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Johannesburg seeks to avert ‘ecological disaster’ from beetle-infested trees

Some of the millions of trees making up Johannesburg's man-made forest are pictured on October 22, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Kim Harrisberg

Johannesburg seeks to avert ‘ecological disaster’ from beetle-infested trees
By Kim Harrisberg

JOHANNESBURG (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Researchers and city officials are racing to understand the extent of a beetle infestation damaging trees across South Africa that, if left unaddressed, could have a ripple effect on the climate, air quality and ecosystems.

The Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB), indigenous to Southeast Asia, is a tiny beetle that drills holes into trees, depositing a fungus that can eventually kill its hosts.

Estimates of the infestation in Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city, range from 5,000 to well over 20,000 trees, while figures across the country are not yet known.

According to Jenny Moodley, spokeswoman for Johannesburg City Parks, trees – besides beautifying urban areas – store planet-warming carbon, filter air pollution, cool temperatures and regulate the climate.

“Removing them could impact the health of residents and the environment, as well as property values in the city,” she said, noting that cutting down the infested trees was a last resort.

The beetle infestation “could trigger an ecological disaster if not managed”, Moodley told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Researchers said the beetles had been spotted in nearly every South African province.

Environmentalists say protecting existing forests and restoring damaged ones prevents flooding, sequesters more carbon, limits climate change and protects biodiversity. [nL3N2760SV]

“Trees are a massive part of the urban landscape,” said Marcus Byrne, an Ig Nobel prize winner and entomologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“They give us shade, clean pollutants, reduce movement of dust and cool the urban heat islands,” he said by phone.

Various solutions to the beetle problem have been proposed, including tree felling and chemical products, said Moodley.

But “no successful proof” has been presented for any one of them as a feasible strategy to roll out country-wide, she added.

“We have hit a stone wall,” she said.

The Johannesburg city website cautions residents against applying chemicals to infected trees, as doing so could contaminate ground water, destroy animal habitats and kill off pollinating insects like bees.

So far the city has removed 220 dead trees that are being chipped into smaller pieces, covered with plastic and left in the sun for three months to kill all the beetles in the wood.

But until more is known about the infestation, the city is cautious about cutting down any more trees, Moodley said.

She urged residents to plant indigenous trees that are not prone to infestation, report any signs of the beetle and take care when buying firewood that may be infested.

Community groups, meanwhile, have started marking beetle-ridden trees with “PSHB” stickers to alert city residents.

The beetle is thought to have entered the country around 2012 on wood pallets, said Wilhelm de Beer, an associate professor in microbiology at the University of Pretoria.

“We do believe this is a risk to other southern African countries,” warned de Beer, who is running workshops on the problem with researchers across 15 African nations.

The beetle attacks more than 300 hard and softwood species of different sizes, noted de Beer, who is working with experts in California where a major outbreak killed millions of trees over the past decade.

Both de Beer and Byrne said more research and data were needed before solutions could be proposed.

Byrne is seeking funding to analyse satellite imagery going back 10 years, and using Google Street View and citizen-gathered data to build maps of the infestation across Johannesburg.

De Beer is researching the use of a natural agent, such as an insect or fungus, to control the infestation.

“We are already losing trees to drought,” de Beer added. “We do not need to lose any more.”

(Reporting by Kim Harrisberg @kimharrisberg; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Death toll in South Africa rains approaching 70, official says

Family members speak to a police officer after one of their family member's body was recovered from under the mud after heavy rains caused by flooding in Mariannhill near Durban, South Africa, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

DURBAN/JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Almost 70 people have been killed in South Africa after torrential rains along the eastern coast, an official said on Thursday, and rescuers are still recovering bodies.

KwaZulu-Natal province, where most of the deaths occurred after the downpours led to flooding and mudslides, has heavy rain every year, but they rarely kill so many people in such a short space of time.

A wreckage of a vehicle remains after a body was recovered from under the mud after heavy rains caused by flooding in Marianhill near Durban, South Africa, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

A wreckage of a vehicle remains after a body was recovered from under the mud after heavy rains caused by flooding in Marianhill near Durban, South Africa, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

The number of people killed was “approaching 70”, Lennox Mabaso, a spokesman for the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department, said by phone.

“I don’t recall that in history,” he said, attributing the severity of the storm and its impact on the population to climate change.

A Reuters witness saw rescuers come to collect the body of a woman who had been dug out of the mud by locals. Mabaso said a more precise death toll would be given later on Thursday.

Eyewitnesses recounted on Wednesday how flood waters and mudslides crashed through houses, many with people inside, and destroyed roads and other infrastructure.

The rains carved chunks out of hills and roads in the region, with cars, tin roofs and other rubble swept into the deep muddy trenches left behind.

In other places, people buried their dead on muddy hillsides churned up by the storm, marking their resting place with simple wooden crosses.

Vanetia Phakula, a senior forecaster at the South African Weather Service, said the storm was not currently seen as unusual, though the level of rainfall might have been higher than normal.

Over 100 millimeters of rain was recorded as falling at numerous stations within the area between Monday morning and Tuesday, she said.

Phakula said the high death toll could instead be explained by the flooding and mudslides occurring in more highly populated areas.

“Hence the death toll is what it is today,” she said.

While more rain was expected on Thursday it was not expected to be heavy, and the service was forecasting dry weather in most areas by Friday, she added.

(Reporting by Rogan Ward in Durban and Emma Rumney in Johannesburg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

South Africa’s Cape Town faces severe economic troubles over drought

Sand blows across a normally submerged area at Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa, January 21, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Rating’s agency Moody’s warned on Monday the water crisis affecting Cape Town would cause the city’s borrowing to rise sharply and the provincial economy to shrink the longer the situation lasted.

A severe drought afflicting South Africa’s Western Cape province is expected to cut agricultural output by 20 percent in 2018, decimating the wheat crop and reducing apple, grape and pear exports to Europe, according to national government.

The City is bracing for “Day Zero” in late August when its taps could run dry.

Moody’s said in a report that one of the most direct impacts would be on Cape Town’s operating revenues, as 10 percent of them are from water charges.

The ratings agency estimates capital expenditure related to water and sanitation infrastructure could be as much as 12.7 billion rand ($1 billion) over the next five years.

“The long-term solutions are likely to require significant capital and operating expenditure,” Daniel Mazibuko, an analyst at Moody’s said.

The drought also threatens to slow South Africa’s economic rebound which has been fueled by a surge in agricultural production. Cape town generated nearly 10 percent of the country’s total gross domestic product in 2016.

Last Tuesday, Statistics South Africa said the economy grew 3.1 percent in October-December, the highest rate since the second quarter of 2016, after expanding by a revised 2.3 percent in the third quarter. Agriculture showed a 37.5 percent expansion after growing 41.1 percent in the previous quarter.

Government has declared drought a national disaster after its southern and western regions including Cape Town got hit hard by the drought, freeing extra funds to tackle the crisis.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by James Macharia)

Sporadic violence in Johannesburg as South Africans protest against Zuma

Demonstrators carry banners as they take part in a protest calling for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Johannesburg. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

By Ed Stoddard and TJ Strydom

PRETORIA/JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Sporadic violence broke out in Johannesburg as more than 50,000 people marched in South African cities to protest against President Jacob Zuma on Friday, demanding he quit after a cabinet reshuffle triggered the latest crisis of his presidency.

Zuma’s sacking of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in the reshuffle last Thursday has outraged allies and opponents alike, undermined his authority and caused rifts in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has governed South Africa since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

Fitch on Friday followed S&P Global Ratings and downgraded South Africa to “junk”, citing Gordhan’s dismissal as one reason. S&P had issued its downgrade on South Africa in an unscheduled review on Monday.

In Johannesburg, police “fired rubber bullets at protesters who were attacking other protesters with stones. Four protesters sustained minor injuries,” Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesman Wayne Minaar said. Some ANC backers were trying to breach a cordon separating them from members of the opposition Democratic Alliance.

Elsewhere in the city, the marches were peaceful.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the DA, which had called for the marches, held a rally of more than 10,000 people that was calm, a few streets from the scene of the violence. Some held placards saying “Fire Zuma”.

“Our country is in crisis,” Maimane, who wore a bullet-proof vest under his shirt after the DA said it had received threats to the protest’s leaders, said. “The time to act is now.”

“We are unhappy about his leadership because he does not seem to care about the people,” said Syriana Maesela, 65, a retiree carrying a South African flag. “The irony is I did the same thing in 1976 when I was a student. I also marched then,” she said, referring protests against the apartheid regime.

About 10,000 gathered in a field outside the Union Buildings, the site of Zuma’s offices in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital.

A PROTEST SURVIVOR

Zuma, 74, has faced protests in the past. The ANC on Wednesday rejected calls for Zuma to quit, and analysts doubted marches would shake the president. It said its members in parliament would vote against a motion of no confidence in Zuma on April 18, a key rallying call for the marchers on Friday.

And Zuma supporters also gathered. About 300 camouflage-clad veterans of the ANC’s now-disbanded Umkhonto we Sizwe (MKMVA ) military wing ringed the party’s Luthuli House building in downtown Johannesburg, mounting mock parades and singing in support of the president.

Some clad in the yellow, green and gold colors of the ANC also danced, waving placards emblazoned with the words: “I’m prepared to die for my ANC” and “Hands off our President”.

“They are free to march freely but not to try and remove a government that was elected democratically,” said Kebby Maphatsoe, the head of the veterans group and also Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

“Let them wait for 2019 and we will take them on, but the ones that want to remove it undemocratically, MKMVA will rise up to the occasion.”

The rand <ZAR=D3> weakened slightly after Fitch’s announcement. The currency has tumbled more than 11 percent since March 27, when Zuma ordered Gordhan to return home from overseas talks with investors, days before firing him.

“The bottom line is we are paying for the consequences of the political regime that has lost direction,” said Gary van Staden, analyst at NKC African Economics. The downgrade will add to pressure on Zuma to leave office, he said.

Capital Economics Africa economist John Ashbourne said in a note that although there was mounting opposition to Zuma “we think that the most likely outcome is still that Mr. Zuma will decide the timing of his own exit.”

PARLIAMENT

In Cape Town, motorists hooted in support of the march as about 10,000 people gathered at various points in the city, including outside parliament.

“It’s not simply a question of his removal. It is about the renewal of the ANC and democracy,” said Gerrald Ray, 56, a business strategist.

About 4,000 people were also marching in the coastal city of Durban, the main city in the KwaZulu Natal province, an ANC stronghold.

“We need to unite and fight this corruption,” said Michelle Fortune, 48, a manager who declined to say where she works. She wore a South African flag bandana.

Meanwhile, members of the ANC Youth League gathered in downtown Durban, singing “Awuleth’umshini wami”, a song popularized by Zuma, which means “bring me my gun” and held placards supporting the president.

(Additional reporting by Marius Bosch, Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, Nqobile Dludla and Tanisha Heiberg in Johannesburg, Wendell Roelf in Cape Town and Rogan Ward in Durban; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Larry King)