After former President Jacob Zuma was sentenced to prison for contempt of court last week, as unrest and violence spread, South Africa has deployed troops to help the country’s embattled police force.
In recent days, at least four people have been killed and hundreds have been arrested. After a weekend of robberies and riots, on Monday, the police worked hard to contain the escalating violence in cities such as Durban and Johannesburg. The protesters blocked the main road and the truck was burned.
The deployment will “provide a safe and safe working environment for members. [police] And other law enforcement agencies while fulfilling the responsibilities of law and order under the constitution,” the South African Defense Force said in a statement on Monday. The army was used to implement the first coronavirus blockade, but they are rarely deployed in response to unrest. Currently It is unclear how many troops will be sent to Gauteng province, the economic center of the country hardest hit by the disaster, and KwaZulu-Natal province, where Zuma began serving his sentence on Thursday.
Zuma ignored corruption investigations during his nine-year rule and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Zuma’s lawyers made one last attempt on Monday to persuade the Constitutional Court to revoke the sentence on the grounds that the 79-year-old was weak and unable to survive in prison. Legal experts say that such an attempt is unlikely to succeed.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who succeeded Zuma in 2018 and sought to fight endemic corruption, condemned “sporadic but increasingly violent protests” on Sunday. Ramaphosa promised that “we will not tolerate criminal behavior,” but the riots continued overnight.
Ramaphosa said on Sunday: “Although some people may be hurt and angry at this moment, there will never be any reason for such violent, destructive and destructive actions.”
Zuma was imprisoned under an order of the South African Constitutional Court, which last month ruled that he was guilty of contempt for refusing to answer allegations of systemic corruption during the presidency. After Zuma repeatedly attacked the court and predicted a popular uprising against the judges, the verdict was hailed as a victory for the rule of law in Africa’s most industrialized country. Zuma denies all wrongdoing.
The violence and anger of his supporters exposed the tensions of the ruling African National Congress, and many looters cited Zuma’s name in online footage. Ramaphosa added: “One of the concerns of all South Africans is that some of the violence is based on racial mobilization,” which alludes to an attempt to arouse Zulu nationalists’ anger against Zuma’s imprisonment.
South Africa’s National Joint Operations and Intelligence Agency, an agency that coordinates law enforcement agencies, said on Sunday that hundreds of people set up a main road in Johannesburg and attacked the police, which was “speculative crime caused by violent protests”. On Monday, gunfire broke out in Durban, the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal province, courts were forced to close, and a shopping mall in the provincial capital Pietermaritzburg was also set on fire.
The Zuma Foundation last week described the riots as “the reactive righteous anger of the people… Others characterized it as violent”. It added that the riots were a “violent provocation” in response to Zuma’s imprisonment.
Zuma’s power base KwaZulu-Natal has a long history of political violence, including killing and burning trucks. Analysts say that high inequality and poverty in South Africa also mean that protests can lead to robbery.
South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, stated that Ramaphosa “should recognize the role of the ANC in this crisis because it is basically a civil war they launched on our streets”.