TROOPS have been deployed in South Africa after 30 people were killed in rioting and deadly stampedes sparked by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma. The violence was triggered by the jailing of Zuma, 79, for defying a constitutional court order to give evidence at an inquiry probing high-level corruption during his nine years in office until 2018.
Police said violence and looting had intensified as Zuma challenged his 15-month prison term in the country’s top court. The judgment in the case has been reserved. But the situation has evolved into an outpouring of anger over persistent poverty and inequality in South Africa 27 years after the end of apartheid.
Up to 30 people have been killed during the unrest, Reuters reports. Officials say four of the deaths four in Gauteng and 26 in KwaZulu-Natal where many of whom died in stampedes with their bodies left strewn in the streets. Smoke is today swirling from burning buildings as items from burgled shops lay strewn by the side of the road in Pietermaritzburg in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
The sporadic pro-Zuma protests that broke out when he handed himself over last week have escalated into looting and arson, mainly in KZN. Troops were moving in to flashpoints today as outnumbered police seemed helpless to prevent attacks and looting on businesses in Zuma’s home province KwaZulu-Natal and in Gauteng province, where the country’s biggest city, Johannesburg, is located. Columns of armoured personnel carriers rolled down highways.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft.”