Connect with us



The number of soldiers deployed on the streets of South Africa has doubled to 5,000 as the army and police struggle to quell days of looting and violence.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is considering boosting troop numbers even more, as at least 72 people have been killed in the worst unrest in the country for years.

And some citizens are arming themselves to protect their property and businesses from the rampage, which has hit two of South Africa‘s nine provinces – KwaZulu-Natal, where Durban is located, and Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg.

In the Mobeni area of Durban, several food warehouses and a rice depot have been “invaded” and “ransacked”, according to Sky News correspondent John Sparks.

Warehouses ransacked
Food warehouses have been ransacked in Durban

He described the scene as “absolute chaos” and “out of control” as looters have been “carting off” what was inside the facilities.

He said they had brought cars and trucks to fill up their vehicles with what they could get their hands on.

There has been mass looting and rioting in multiple locations in the city and elsewhere in the country, including in some areas of Johannesburg, such as Vosloorus.

More on Jacob Zuma

The unrest was sparked by the imprisonment last week of former president Jacob Zuma, which has spiralled into days of looting.

At least 1,234 people have been arrested in waves of rioting. The violence has not spread to the country’s other seven provinces, where police are on alert.

Many of the deaths were caused by chaotic stampedes as thousands of people stole food, electric appliances, alcohol and clothing from stores, police said.

Thousands of soldiers have been deployed to support officers and try to restore law and order.

But Sparks said the army was nowhere to be seen as people were just “helping themselves”.

He added: “This is really out of control.”

“What we have here is something quite extraordinary. People have broken into food warehouses and they are stripping them, they are emptying them.”

Among the items being stolen were mattresses, kitchen appliances and boxes of sardines.

In eastern Johannesburg, some shopping centres continued to be targeted, while in Soweto township, south of the city, police and army units patrolled malls and streets.

Acting minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said the government was working with the consumer council to ensure food security.

There have been fears that the anarchy and looting could lead to food shortages.

She claimed putting troops on the streets was beginning to have the desired effect.

She said: “We are getting positive reports that the deployment of additional law enforcement agencies is starting to reap positive results as we are seeing less incidents of violence and looting reported.”

She added: “5,000 members of the national defence force have already been deployed on the ground. Law enforcement officers, supported by the military, are working tirelessly to ensure the country returns to peace and stability and that those responsible for the instability are quickly brought to book.”

Sparks had earlier been at another mass looting location where people told him they were “hungry”.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma
Former South African president Jacob Zuma was jailed last week

Lots of South Africans have lost jobs in the pandemic, including during lockdowns, and they were living “very much a hand-to-mouth existence”.

Sparks said COVID restrictions “have hurt people here”.

More than half of the country’s 60 million people are living in poverty, with an unemployment rate of 32%, according to official statistics.

Violence broke out after Zuma began serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court.

He was jailed for refusing to comply with a court order to testify at a state-backed inquiry investigating corruption claims while he was president from 2009 to 2018.

Continue Reading


India: At least 34 people die and more than 100 taken to hospital after drinking illegally brewed alcohol in Tamil Nadu




India: At least 34 people die and more than 100 taken to hospital after drinking illegally brewed alcohol in Tamil Nadu

At least 34 people have died and more than 100 have been taken to hospital after drinking illegally brewed alcohol in Tamil Nadu in southern India, a senior official has said.

The state’s chief minister M K Stalin said they had consumed liquor tainted with methanol, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

More than 100 people suffering from vomiting, stomach ache and diarrhoea have been admitted to hospitals in the Kallakurichi district since Wednesday – and more than 60 are still being treated, a government spokesperson for the state said on Thursday.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

A police chief is among at least 10 officials who have been suspended in the district over the incident.

A video from the ANI news agency, which is part-owned by Reuters news agency, showed healthcare officials carrying patients in ambulances at a hospital, while another showed several people standing outside a mortuary.

M S Prasanth, a senior state official, told the Press Trust of India the number listed in critical condition keeps changing, suggesting the death toll could rise.

Ambulances, doctors and specialists from nearby areas have been deployed to the district.

A 49-year-old man named as Govindaraj has been arrested by police for selling illegal alcohol and officers have seized 200 litres of the methanol-mixed alcoholic drink, officials said.

Read more from Sky News:
Boy, 14, on perilous journey from South America to US

Shocking moment drunk driver ploughs into cyclists
Filipino soldiers fight off ‘armed’ Chinese coastguard with ‘bare hands’

Last year, more than a dozen people died in a similar incident in a nearby district in Tamil Nadu.

Kallakurichi is located around 150 miles (250km) from the state capital, Chennai.

Continue Reading


Today is ‘key’ in search for British teenager Jay Slater missing in Tenerife, local reporter says




Today is 'key' in search for British teenager Jay Slater missing in Tenerife, local reporter says

Today is a “key day” in the search for a British teenager who has been missing in Tenerife since Monday morning, with search and rescue teams hoping “to have good news”, a journalist on the island has said.

Jay Slater, from Lancashire, who was holidaying with friends, was last seen on a night out in Tenerife on Sunday evening, having been to the NRG music festival.

Tenerife-based reporter Clio O’Flynn said Thursday “is a key day, the day they [the rescuers] want to have good news and say they’ve found Jay”.

Pic: Bomberos Voluntarios de Santiago del Teide
The search resumed on Thursday. Pic: Bomberos Voluntarios de Santiago del Teide

Jay Slater and his mother, Debbie Duncan. Pic: Lucy Law
Jay Slater and his mother, Debbie Duncan. Pic: Lucy Law

“If he’s taken shelter, the hope is he’s waiting for help to come along,” the journalist told Sky News.

His mother, Debbie Duncan, who flew to the island and has joined mountain rescuers and the local civil guard in the search for the 19-year-old, has called his disappearance “an absolute living nightmare”.

She told ITV News: “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. I just want my baby back.”

Mr Slater’s friend, Lucy Law, told Wednesday’s UK Tonight programme on Sky News she spoke to him at around 8.15am local time on Monday.

More on Jay Slater

Mr Slater, an apprentice bricklayer, is “not a stupid boy”, she said, but had told her his mobile phone battery was down to 1%.

Ms O’Flynn said: “The problem will be ‘does he have a phone signal? Will people be able to locate him? Can he hear their cries?'”

Authorities, she said, are “very, very keen to find this young man, for his sake and the sake of the island”.

Pic: Bomberos Voluntarios de Santiago del Teide
Pic: Bomberos Voluntarios de Santiago del Teide

The search had been “very intense”, she added, with teams using all the resources at their disposal, including “mountain specialists, search dogs, drones and helicopters” and are “taking suggestions from his family, so it’s very coordinated”.

The area where he is believed to have gone missing is a “dry, arid, part of the island”, and, given its volcanic origins, has “ravines and gullies”, Ms O’Flynn said, warning there are “no lakes, rivers or streams, so it would be quite hard for him to access fresh water”.

However, she said the island, the largest and most populous of the Canary Islands, is “not experiencing the sort of heatwaves seen recently in Greece and Cyprus”.

Tenerife map for Jay Slater story

Temperatures have been around 26C (79F), she said, but warned that “if you’re lost, 25C is very hot”.

Ms Law said Mr Slater, from Oswaldtwistle, near Blackburn, told her he had got lost and needed water and had “cut his leg on a cactus”.

When she told him to return to where he had walked from, he said he did not know where that was, she said.

He was without food and water, she added, and had been in a T-shirt and shorts. “It’s very warm in the day and very cold at night”.

Pic: Bomberos Voluntarios de Santiago del Teide
Pic: Bomberos Voluntarios de Santiago del Teide

Earlier, she told the Manchester Evening News someone Mr Slater had met on his night out had driven him back to their apartment in a hire car without him realising how far away it was.

“He’s ended up out in the middle of nowhere. Jay was obviously thinking he would be able to get home from there,” she told the newspaper.

Read more from Sky News:
The perilous journey for migrants across Mexico
Grave concerns over Putin and Kim’s ‘armed aggression’ pact
Filipino soldiers fight off ‘armed’ Chinese Coast Guard with ‘bare hands’

During the short phone call, he told her he had missed a bus trying to get back to his holiday accommodation so was attempting to walk instead – a journey that would take 11 hours.

Jay Slater. Pic: Lucy Law
Jay Slater. Pic: Lucy Law

His phone then cut out, with his last live location showing as the Rural de Teno park – a mountainous area popular with hikers.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Spain and are in contact with the local authorities.”

Continue Reading


Thousands of migrants attempt to make the dangerous journey from Mexico to the US – this is where it starts




Thousands of migrants attempt to make the dangerous journey from Mexico to the US - this is where it starts

As the sun rises over the Usumacinta River between Guatemala and Mexico, the silence is broken by the sounds of people awaking after another night camping on the riverbanks.

Soon the ferrymen who pilot a flotilla of makeshift rafts constructed of planks strapped to very large inner tyre tubes, begin their never-ending trade of moving fruit and vegetables, construction equipment, crates of beer and liquor, motorcycles and bicycles, but above all – people.

This is where thousands of migrants heading to the United States begin what they hope to be the last leg of their often epic journeys to the northern border with the US.

1600 miles through Mexico is all that separates them from their dreams of a new life.

I’ve been here many times to report over many years and I am never less than amazed at the number of people who attempt this journey, and the sheer number of small children.

But this time I’ve noticed some things have changed.

Whereas a few years ago the migrants were almost entirely from Southern and Central America, now they’re from all over the world.

More from World

On this trip we have met young men and women from China, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia, Mauritania, Kazakhstan, Haiti, and Gambia, to name a few.

Another major change seems to be the attitude of the Mexican authorities.

Migrants bathe in the river
Migrants bathe in the river

A migrant sleeps near the river
A migrant sleeps near the river

In the past, the passage of the migrants north, while not easy, wasn’t noticeably hindered by the Mexicans.

Now though, with the issue of migration on its southern border a political hot potato in a United States election year, the Mexican authorities have got the message from the United States that thousands of migrants on the border fence is not a good look.

What we have witnessed is a system that doesn’t actually stop the migrants moving north, but makes it bureaucratic, confusing and often contradictory enough that the migrants don’t know what to do.

The US has a problem with the numbers, so people travelling through Mexico are shifted from one location to another and left, and then shifted again – never really making any progress.

Legally, migrants and asylum seekers cannot be stopped, but they can be asked to follow rules (or have their paperwork torn up), and if the rules keep changing, there is nothing they can do about.

After crossing the Usumacinta River from Guatemala, the migrants rest in the city of Hidalgo, before forming into groups known as “caravans” to begin their journey north.

They travel together for safety from gangs and criminals who prey on the migrants.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Migrants worldwide head to the US through Mexico

We joined a pop-up caravan shortly before dawn; they move at that time to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.

This caravan is led by a young Brazilian man named Davyde who is with his wife and sister-in-law.

“Brazil is not good, I can’t make enough money to pay the rent, America would be great,” he told me when I wondered why he’d made the journey from Brazil.

As we walk with the group of 200 plus people, the sun rises and the temperature soars.

Whole families, very young and old, travel along the sides of busy motorways, heading north – always north.

Walking with the group, we meet Mayra Ferrerr from Acarigua in Venezuela.

The 40-year-old is travelling with her two sons and some fellow Venezuelans.

They’ve all become friends along the way. Mayra has breast cancer, and she’s trying to get to her family in the US.

She’s prepared to risk everything.

Read more:
Asylum seekers look to UK as Germany toughens migrations laws
The deadly migrant routes from Vietnam to Europe
On the ‘Train of Death’: Electric shocks, beatings and brandings

Migrant caravan leader Davyde is seen in the white vest
Migrant caravan leader Davyde is seen in the white vest

“We left Venezuela because there is no education, because there is no medicine, because I am an oncology patient and I cannot get treatment in the public health system for breast cancer,” she told me.

“And well, I needed to go somewhere where I can be checked and continue treatment.”

Mayra explained that she’s doing chemotherapy in the form of pills, but that she stopped taking them so that she wasn’t too weak on this journey.

She says it’s tough, but that she and her family and friends plan to keep going.

“Well, it is hard because unfortunately in many towns we have crossed, they take advantage of our situation, our need to keep moving forward, and the costs, be it water or bread, they make it more expensive for us.”

A man sleeps with is daughter near the river
A man sleeps with his daughter near the river

Most of the migrants are carrying tents, an absolute necessity for crossing the Darien Gap – a notorious jungle crossing on the migrant route, which lies between Colombia and Panama.

Mayra says the tents are worth holding on to.

“We have kept our tents because we have nowhere to stay, and we have to set up the tent and camp anywhere, so that we can keep moving forward.”

After a few hours of walking the migrants approach an immigration checkpoint where they are met by Mexican immigration officers.

A woman and baby wait near the checkpoint
A woman and baby wait near the checkpoint

We keep filming as they are told they will be taken north to the first major city in southern Mexico called Tapachula.

The immigration officials give the migrants water and assure them that they are allowed to continue their journey north, that the involvement of immigration is simply to offer them a ride to Tapachula and a free meal.

The migrants are sceptical, but over and over they are assured that once they are in Tapachula they can get paperwork done and continue.

The ones who agree have their identity cards and passports logged and checked, and then they’re loaded onto minibuses.

Mayra, her two sons, and her friends all agree to go in the migration minibus to Tapachula.

This doesn’t mean however that a journey further north is going to happen anytime soon.

At another immigration checkpoint on the outskirts of Tapachula, crowds surge around immigration staff, waving their papers.

All they’re trying to do is get on a bus north, but the Mexican authorities assumed assistance has dried up.

America does not want them in the north and nor it seems does Mexico, so they’re in a limbo.

At multiple checkpoints we saw what is developing into a multinational mess.

Mexico's National Guard patrols the area near the river
Mexico’s National Guard patrols the area near the river

Groups of young Chinese men and women take shade amongst Jordanians, Egyptians, Somalis, Gambians, even two friends from Kazakhstan.

The list of nationalities is remarkable, not least because of the distances they’ve travelled.

Said is a 28-year-old Afghan who worked for a British NGO until the Taliban arrived in Kabul in August 2021.

Migrants gathered at the park in Tapachula
Migrants gathered at the park in Tapachula

He says he got his paperwork to leave from Kabul Airport at the time, but abandoned his plans after a suicide bomb went off at the evacuation point.

Said’s father and two uncles were killed by the Taliban, and he sees no safe future for his family there.

Indeed, he asked us not to show his face or use his full name because it would be dangerous for family members still in Afghanistan.

A Mexican military vehicle near the checkpoint
A Mexican military vehicle near the checkpoint

Said is travelling with his wife, three young children, and his 74-year-old grandfather who has stage one Alzheimer’s.

Said told me that other migrants have nicknamed his grandad the “warrior” for undertaking such an intense physical journey in his older years.

The family has been on the move for two years.

“I realised I am on my own, I have to do it for myself, for my family, I’ve realised nobody is going to help me,” he told me.

Said knows the political mood in the United States ahead of the presidential elections in November will be a factor in their chances of making it.

“I believe in God, I know I am in Mexico and 90% of the people are arriving there, actually, before the election, I need to get there before the election because I don’t know the next president, what he will do and what he is thinking about refugees like us,” he said.

Amongst the migrants we also come across 14-year-old Edgar Fonseca Cepeda.

He is completely on his own; an unaccompanied minor migrant.

Said is seen holding his son
Said is seen holding his son

Edgar travelled from Venezuela to Colombia where his grandmother, who had been caring for him, died.

Now he is trying to get to his mother who is in Washington DC and has undertaken this journey on his own.

We arrange for him to speak to his mother Carolina on a video call.

It was heartbreaking to witness.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

14-year-old migrant travels alone to reach his mother in US

Both mum and son started crying, and his mum kept saying how sorry she was that he was having to do this journey alone.

The day before, Edgar had explained to her that he, along with another group of migrants, had been kidnapped by a gang – he was only released after handing over 75 US dollars scrambled together by fellow travellers.

“We decided to come here on foot, which is a risk, and well, before Tapachula, just before we got here, we had already walked about six kilometres, we were stopped by a few bikers,” he explained to me.

“That’s when they told us not to cry, not to scream because nothing was going to happen to us, we thought that we were going to be surrounded by immigration, but no, they took us to a chicken coop…”

The group, including Edgar, say they were held for 8 to 10 hours.

We’ve heard exactly the same testimony from a number of migrants we’ve spoken to in the last few days.

“The truth is, it was horrible that chicken coop, people holding guns, I’m not used to seeing things like that, it was really scary,” Edgar added.

Migrants from China, Kazakhstan and Nigeria
Migrants from China, Kazakhstan and Nigeria

We spoke to his mum Carolina, and she asked us to take him to the authorities, saying it was too dangerous for him to continue alone.

Edgar says he hasn’t seen his mother for six or seven months.

“It’s really very, very hard, I miss her so much, that’s why I’ve done all of this.”

Edgar bade an emotional goodbye to his new travelling family, the strangers who helped look after him on the journey.

He is safe now but when he will see his mother again nobody can say.

All these migrants are in a sort of vortex – not being stopped from travelling north but not being allowed to either.

The day after meeting Mayra and her group of family and friends heading north, we travelled again south to the river.

Mayra and her son wait to board a minibus
Mayra and her son wait to board a minibus

On our way back we recognised some of Mayra’s group on the side of the road, exactly where they originally started.

We were confused, so we pulled over to talk to them.

They explained they were taken north to Tapachula, given some food, waited about an hour not knowing what was happening, then put back on the minibus and sent straight back to the riverside where they started.

They told us they were given additional paperwork, and then, as they put it “thrown out on the street”.

I asked one of them, Christian Heredia, if the authorities acknowledged that taking them all the way back doesn’t help.

“They’re delaying us, yes, they know, of course, but as I was saying, they are the law here, here we are nobody, so they do as they please with the migrants. Right? That’s the truth,” he replied.

Christian Heredia with his daughter
Christian Heredia with his daughter

Christian says many of the migrants we had seen loaded into the minibuses and promised a ride to Tapachula the previous day had been pushed back to the river just like them.

They suspect the authorities only promised to look after them because of our presence, otherwise they believe the migration officials probably would’ve just driven them straight back down to the river.

Local buses don’t usually pick up migrants because they’re not allowed to, but standing on the side of the road with fresh papers, Christian and the group were able to flag down a minibus to take them back to Tapachula.

They reunited with Mayra and her boys in the main square where migrants from all over the world gather.

They, like everyone there, refuse to accept defeat. But their mammoth journeys are far from over.

Indeed, their difficulties continue.

The last we heard from Mayra and her friends they’d been robbed at gunpoint in a bus taking them further north.

Continue Reading