Jul 27, 2021

Leaderless South Africa Deploys Military To Tackle Zuma Riots

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The unrest began as protests against Mr Zuma’s jailing but has escalated and broadened in other parts of the country.

FILE PHOTO: Police have accused people of taking advantage of the unrest and undermining the legitimacy of the supporters of former President Jacob Zuma. PICTURE: AFP

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JOHANNESBURG: At least six people have been killed and nearly 500 arrested since Zuma handed himself into police last week.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for people to “stand against violence” in response to deadly unrest triggered by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.

At least six people have been killed and nearly 500 arrested since Zuma handed himself into police last week.

Shops have been looted and buildings set on fire resulting in troops being deployed in Gauteng province, and in Mr Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Mr Zuma was convicted of contempt of court after failing to attend an inquiry into corruption during his presidency.

The 79-year-old, who denies corruption, was given a 15-month prison sentence. He is hoping to get the sentence rescinded or reduced by the country’s constitutional Court. However, legal experts say his chances of success are slim.

His legal counsel led by Advocate Dali Mpofu has argued before the ConCourt that while both Mr Zuma and former South African Prime Minister Mr PW Botha ignored summonses to appear before a commission of inquiry. There is a stark difference in how these Concourt dealt with this issue.

Mr Botha was given a trial for defying summonses to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), while Mr Zuma was sent to jail for not appearing before the state capture commission of inquiry.

“What did PW Botha do? He defied a commission of inquiry. What did president Zuma do? He defied a commission of inquiry assuming he’s guilty of that.”

In a televised address on Monday, Mr Ramaphosa condemned “acts of public violence of a kind rarely seen in the history of our democracy”.

The unrest began as protests against Mr Zuma’s jailing but has escalated and broadened in other parts of the country.

Images from Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, showed shops ransacked and businesses set on fire. In Johannesburg, looters were seen taking televisions, microwave ovens and clothes.

“What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

“There is no grievance or political cause that can justify the violence and destruction that we have seen in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.”

On Sunday, protesters armed with sticks, golf clubs and branches were seen marching through Johannesburg’s central business district.

The violence has affected Covid vaccination drives, with some chemists saying vaccination sites had been “destroyed and looted,” it has been reported.

Some sites have been forced to close amid safety concerns.

“Our vaccination programme has been severely disrupted just as it was gaining momentum. This will have lasting effects on our progress in economic recovery,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

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