South Africa Deploys Its Military to Counteract Violence
For the fourth consecutive day, looting and vandalism continue and propagate in South Africa after the imprisonment of the country's former President, Jacob Zuma.
For the fourth consecutive day, looting and vandalism continue in South Africa, which broke out after the imprisonment of former President, Jacob Zuma.
These actions come as the Constitutional Court, South Africa's highest judicial body, re-examines his prison sentence.
Since last Friday, events have erupted in the Zulu, home province of former President Jacob Zuma, as he was detained in implementation of the deadline issued by the judiciary.
Though unrelated to Zuma’s imprisonment, unrest spread to the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Johannesburg, triggered by the deteriorating economic situation, which was strengthened by the restrictions imposed since mid-June to confront a third wave of the Coronavirus.
The police and army were also deployed on a large scale: With their helicopters hovering over major cities and the police arresting 219 people in the country's economic capital, Johannesburg, and the Zulu region, against the backdrop of continued looting and vandalism of property.
Many stores closed their doors as a precautionary measure, according to the AFP.
Local TV channels broadcasted live footage of a stampede of people looting shops, while the police dispersed the crowd by firing rubber bullets at them. A scene with a cloud of black smoke rising over a shopping center in Pietermaritzburg was displayed, along with people scrambling towards the entrance to the burning building to loot it as others came out with shopping carts loaded with goods.
Police forces confirmed the death of one person yesterday.
Earlier in June, the country's highest court issued a non-appealable ruling that sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison for refusing to testify before a commission investigating corruption during his nine-year rule.
For months, Zuma played a "cat and mouse" game with the Anti-Corruption Committee he formed in early 2018, before being removed in an attempt to sideline suspicions.
It is assumed that the lawyers of the former President, who was removed from power in 2018 due to corruption scandals, will present the same arguments related to his health, whilst confirming that doing jail time with effect is not the appropriate punishment, as relayed by the court in a summary presented to the media last Saturday.
Zuma (79 years), like any other prisoner, can be eligible for parole after serving a quarter of his sentence, that is, after four months. He is not supposed to receive any "preferential treatment" in prison "where he is treated like any other prisoner without a guard or private security," according to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.
It is noteworthy that the growing tension related to Zuma's refusal to testify led the situation to a dead end, as around 40 witnesses made accusations against him before the Advisory Committee, which in its turn submits its conclusions to the Public Prosecution.
The former President made his statements before the Committee only once, in July 2019, after which he refused to continue after expressing his displeasure for being treated as a “defendant” and not as a witness, only to miss several summonses to testify, presenting different arguments each time.