by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

July 12, 2021

CAPE TOWN — Since Jacob Zuma turned himself in to police last week, at least six people have been killed and nearly 500 have been arrested.  Buildings have been set on fire and shops have been looted.  Troops have been deployed in Gauteng province and KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province.

Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court after he failed to appear at a corruption investigation during his presidency.  The 79-year-old, who denies any wrongdoing, was sentenced to 15 months in prison.  He is hoping that the country’s constitutional Court will overturn or reduce his sentence.  Legal experts, on the other hand, believe his chances of success are slim.

Mr Ramaphosa condemned “acts of public violence of a kind rarely seen in the history of our democracy” in a televised address on Monday.  The unrest began with protests against Zuma’s detention, but it has since grown and expanded.

Shops were ransacked and businesses were set on fire, according to images from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.  Looters were seen in Johannesburg stealing televisions, microwave ovens, and clothing.

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

According to the AFP news agency, the violence has harmed Covid vaccination drives, with some chemists reporting that vaccination sites have been “destroyed and looted,”

Due to safety concerns, some sites have been forced to close.

In Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 11, 2021, stick-wielding protesters march through the streets as violence spreads across the country following the imprisonment of former South African President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma is being tried on corruption charges in addition to his contempt of court sentence.

In a case involving a $5 billion (£3 billion) arms deal from the 1990s, he pleaded not guilty last month.  His supporters claim he is the victim of a political witch hunt carried out by Ramaphosa’s allies.