South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for people to “stand against violence” in response to deadly unrest triggered by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma. At least six people have been killed and nearly 500 arrested since Zuma handed himself in to police last week. Shops have been looted and buildings set on fire.
Protests by his supporters have escalated into looting and arson, mainly in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and in Gauteng, where Johannesburg is located. President Cyril Ramaphosa said nearly 500 people had been arrested. Troops have been deployed in Gauteng province, and in KwaZulu-Natal. Zuma was convicted of contempt of court after failing to attend an inquiry into corruption during his presidency. The 79-year-old, who denies corruption, was given a 15-month prison sentence. He is hoping to get the sentence rescinded or reduced by the country’s constitutional Court. However, legal experts say his chances of success are slim. In a televised address on Monday, Mr Ramaphosa condemned “acts of public violence of a kind rarely seen in the history of our democracy”.
A statement from the military said “pre-deployment processes had started” following a request for assistance from a government intelligence body, but a Reuters cameraman in Pietermaritzburg, a town in KZN, saw armed soldiers already in the streets.