South Africa has deployed troops to help the country’s police forces when riots and violence spread after last week’s imprisonment of Jacob Zuma, the former president, for contempt of court.
At least four people have been killed and hundreds arrested in recent days. Police have struggled to contain the growing violence in cities including Durban and Johannesburg on Monday after a weekend of looting and riots. Protesters blocked main roads and trucks were burned.
The deployment “provides safety and a safe working environment for members of the [police] and other law enforcement agencies while carrying out their law enforcement and constitutional mandate functions, “South African defense forces said Monday in a statement. Troops have been used to reinforce the first blockade of coronavirus but it is rare. for them to be deployed in response to the unrest.It is unclear how many troops will be sent to the worst-hit provinces of Gauteng, the nation’s economic center, and KwaZulu-Natal, where Zuma began his sentencing Thursday.
Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison after challenging an investigation into corruption during his nine-year reign. Zuma’s lawyers made a final attempt on Monday to convince the constitutional court to overturn his sentence because the 79-year-old is too weak to survive in prison. Legal experts say the attempt is unlikely to succeed.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who succeeded Zuma in 2018 and sought to fight endemic corruption, on Sunday condemned the “sporadic but increasingly violent protests”. Ramaphosa promised that “we will not tolerate acts of crime” but the riots continued from night to night.
“While there are those who may be hurt and angry at this time, there can never be a justification for such violent, destructive and disruptive actions,” Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
Zuma was jailed by order of South Africa’s constitutional court, which last month found him guilty of defiance for his refusal to respond to claims of systematic corruption during his presidency. The ruling was hailed as a victory for the rule of law in Africa’s most industrialized nation, after Zuma repeatedly attacked the courts and predicted a popular uprising against the judges. Zuma denies any wrongdoing.
The violence and anger of his supporters has highlighted tensions in the African National Congress against the government, with several sacking claiming Zuma’s name in online movies. “It is a matter of concern to all South Africans that some of these acts of violence are based on ethnic mobilization,” added Ramaphosa, a veiled reference to attempts to arouse Zulu nationalist anger for Zuma prison.
South Africa’s national operational and intelligence communal structure, a body that coordinates law enforcement agencies, said on Sunday that hundreds of people had barricaded a highway and attacked police in Johannesburg in “opportunistic crime emanating from protests. violent “. The blaze of fire broke out and courts were forced to close on Monday in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal’s largest city, while a shopping center was set on fire in Pietermaritzburg, the provincial capital.
Zuma’s foundation last week described the unrest as “the people’s most reactive anger… That others have characterized as violence.” The disturbances respond to the “violent provocation” of Zuma’s prison sentence, he added.
KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s power base, has a long history of political violence, including killings and truck fires. South Africa’s high level of inequality and poverty also means that protests can lead to looting, analysts say.
South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said Ramaphosa “should recognize the role of the ANC in this crisis, which is essentially its internal war taking place in our streets”.