Army deployed to counter unrest over imprisoned former president


South Africa has deployed soldiers to counter the bloody unrest sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.

Shops were looted and buildings set on fire on Monday, while Zuma appealed his ruling in a Supreme Court hearing.

At least six people have been killed and 200 arrested since the unrest began last week, after Zuma turned himself in and began his 15-month sentence.

Zuma was convicted of contempt of court after failing to attend a corruption investigation during his presidency.

The 79-year-old, who denies there is corruption, hopes to have the sentence overturned or commuted at the Constitutional Court hearing. However, legal experts say its chances of success are slim.

The case sparked an unprecedented legal tragedy in South Africa, which has not seen the imprisonment of a former president before.

People flee the police while carrying goods as they loot and vandalize the Lotsoho Mall in Cattlehong town, east of Johannesburg, on July 12, 2021

Thieves were cleaning up shops in the town of Cattlehong, east of Johannesburg

On Monday, a shopping center was set on fire in Pietermaritzburg, Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal. Pictures also showed buildings and other vehicles being set ablaze, and shops looted.

The BBC’s Nomsa Maseko reports from the city that the situation in Pietermaritzburg is volatile. Protesters responded with live ammunition when riot police fired rubber bullets to disperse them in a shopping mall that was looted overnight, she said.

Police say opportunistic criminals have taken advantage of the chaos.

The violence also spread to Johannesburg in Gauteng province.

On Sunday, protesters armed with sticks, golf clubs and branches were seen walking through Johannesburg’s central business district.

Fake protesters march in the streets as violence following the imprisonment of former South African President Jacob Zuma spreads to the country's main economic hub in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 11, 2021.

Protesters in Johannesburg on Sunday

Some Covid vaccination sites have been forced to close amid safety concerns.

The military said troops were deployed to help police and “quell the unrest that engulfed both.” [provinces] In the past few days.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa called for calm, saying there was no justification for the violence.

Zuma was convicted of defying instructions to testify in a corruption investigation during his nine years in power.

He has only testified once in the investigation into what has become known as “state capture” – the misappropriation of state assets.

In a separate legal matter, he pleaded not guilty last month in a corruption trial related to a $5bn (£3bn) arms deal from the 1990s.

His supporters argue that he is the victim of a political manhunt by Ramaphosa’s allies.

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