Ten supporters of Jacob Zuma have dead and more juried in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces as rioting and looting sparked by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.
Jacob Zuma’s supporters are rioting in the country and looting shops as they are calling for the release of the former president from prison.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the disturbances as “opportunistic acts of criminality” and said the military was being deployed to restore peace.
“Parts of the country are reeling from days and nights of public violence, destruction of property and looting of a sort rarely seen before in the history of our democracy,” The violence began with blockaded roads and the burning of trucks in KwaZulu-Natal province, the Zulu tribal homeland, on Friday, after Zuma went to prison. Unrest then spread to Johannesburg, the country’s largest city and center of industry, where shopping malls have been looted and burned, and highways blocked, Ramaphosa said.
“At the beginning of this unrest, there may have been some people who sought to agitate for violence and disorder along ethnic lines,” said Ramaphosa, referring to initial protests by supporters of Zuma, who was the country’s first Zulu president. “However, what we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft.”
It is anticipated that the nation is yet to witness more unrest as the country’s highest court considers an appeal this week by Zuma of his 15-month prison sentence. After hearing legal arguments on Monday, the Constitutional Court did not making a ruling and will continue deliberations.
More than 500 people were arrested, Ramaphosa said.
The military had been deployed in support of the police, the South African National Defense Force said.
Protests erupted in KwaZulu-Natal province after Zuma handed himself over to prison authorities on July 7 under order from the Constitutional Court, which held him in contempt for repeatedly refusing to appear before a commission investigating allegations of corruption during his nine years as president that ended in 2018. Zuma has denied widespread corruption during his presidency.