In 2021, authorities failed to promptly respond to some of the worst riots and looting the country had seen since the end of apartheid, set off by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. A total of 330 people were killed in the violent riots, and property worth an estimated 50.4 billion rands (US$3.4 billion) was damaged. Other pressing rights issues included attacks on environmental rights defenders, a consistently high rate of gender-based violence, recurring waves of xenophobic violence coupled with impunity for its perpetrators.

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