Following the imprisonment of former South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday, July 7, the calm of his activists did not last. For fires and looting, at least 62 people were arrested.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma surrendered to the police on July 7. Sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of justice, his activists and Zulu tribal warriors initially wanted to prevent his arrest. Zuma's surrender, however, was to be a gesture of appeasement, the state and the former president himself wanting to avoid violence.
However, since Saturday riots have broken out. In Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), thousands of protesters rallied. Calling for Zuma's release, they blocked roads and burned tires in protest. The police intervened, and the militants were dispersed, about twenty were arrested.
Yesterday, the violence escalated, the number of demonstrators too. In Johannesburg, the marches evolved into riots. Young protesters looted and torched shops. "At least 62 people have been arrested," South African police said on Sunday. Three police officers were seriously injured - by gunshot - while trying to stop the looters. A man died, his body was found in a burnt down store. Police are "investigating the circumstances," she said.
🇿🇦🚨 | Since the arrest of the former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, the country has been shaken by vast protests, especially in the country's largest city, Johannesburg.
Scenes of looting have also been reported
- Casus Belli 📡 (@CasusBellii) July 11th, 2021
Will South Africa flare up for Zuma?
The current South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, called for calm on Sunday. In a television speech, he urged people to demonstrate peacefully. He also recalled the health context due to Covid-19, as well as the effect of the weekend's events on the economy. He said: “State agents have been intimidated and threatened, others have been injured. Some people may have died ”. The looting continued, however, on Sunday evening.
According to South African Minister of Police Services (SAPS) Bheki Cele, other law enforcement units will be deployed. He warned Zuma supporters against inciting violence on social media. Cele also threatened, half-heartedly, Zuma's relatives with criminal prosecution for their rhetoric.
If in Gauteng, especially in Johannesburg, the looting was rather indiscriminate, in the KZN, liquor stores were targeted, according to the police. Liquor stores have been closed for two weeks, due to restrictions due to Covid-19. KZN police called the rioters "criminals and opportunists". Local officials said all stores in Goteng and KZN would remain closed today.
On Jacob Zuma's side, two cases and several charges risk prolonging the investigation. The first dates from 1999, and involves the French armaments company Thalès. The second, from 2008, and the Gupta brothers of the Bosasa conglomerate are accused alongside Zuma. South Africa is in a major political crisis. The ANC party of Zuma, Ramaphosa and the late Nelson Mandela is divided between the president and his predecessor.
- Dudu Zuma-Sambudla (@DZumaSambudla) July 9th, 2021