South Africa

South Africa: Protests turn violent in wake of Zuma jailing

Published : July 12, 2021 17:58 IST

South African police have arrested dozens of people for looting and rioting in Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal province. Photo: Rogan Ward/REUTERS

Johannesburg has been rocked by protests against the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma.

Violent rioting erupted across several South African cities on July 11 following the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.

The violence was concentrated mainly in Zuma's home province of KwaZulu-Natal, where he began serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court on July 7. But violence also spread to Gauteng province on July 11, which includes Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city.

Shops were looted, and protesters blocked roads as they marched through the city. The body of a 40-year-old man was recovered from a shop in Johannesburg that had been burned and police are investigating the circumstances, according to a statement by police Major General Mathapelo Peters. At least three police officers were injured when trying to arrest looters and one was hospitalized, the statement added.

Police on July 11 said they had arrested 37 people in KwaZulu-Natal and 25 in Johannesburg over the previous two days.

Top court to review Zuma's jail term

Zuma has been jailed for defying a court order to testify before a state-backed inquiry probing allegations of high-level graft during his term as president from 2009 to 2018. The inquiry was set up in his final weeks in office. Zuma's appeal to be released from the Estcourt Correctional Center was rejected by a regional court on July 9.

The former president, who denies there was widespread corruption under his leadership, will seek to have the ruling set aside on July 12 with the Constitutional Court — South Africa's highest court — on the grounds that it was made in his absence.

Parliament's presiding officers on July 12 said that they were "sympathetic to the personal difficulties confronting former President Jacob Zuma. However, the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution must prevail."

President Cyril Ramaphosa, meanwhile, said there was no justification for violence and that it was hampering South Africa's efforts to rebuild the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

mvb (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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