South Africa riots continues as 72 killed – why is there riots in South Africa?

South Africa: Mum throws child from burning building in Durban

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Civil unrest continues in South Africa as citizens protest the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma. South Africa’s national military has been deployed into areas in which the police can’t cope, with the Government confessing it had not anticipated the scale of the protests that would ensue. About 2,500 soldiers were sent onto the streets of President Zuma’s home province, KwaZulu-Natal, and the province of Guateng, home to the country’s biggest city, Johannesburg. Shopping centres, shops and car dealerships have been just some of the places targeted by rioters and looters, with the death toll reaching 72 as of Tuesday July 13.

Why is there rioting in South Africa?

South Africans are protesting against the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma.

The President, 79, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for defying a court order to give evidence at an inquiry investigating allegations of corruption during his presidency.

The allegations span nine years, from 2009 to 2018, and the situation ended in Zuma eventually handing himself over to authorities.

Protests erupted when he challenged the sentence at South Africa’s Constitutional Court in a hearing that kicked off on Monday.

Legal experts do not believe his appeal is likely to succeed at this point, although the ensuing riots may spark a U-turn if the government becomes desperate.

The decision to jail Zuma is the first time a former president has been sentenced to time in prison since apartheid ended in South Africa.

Zuma rejects all charges brought against him, telling the inquiry in 2019: “I have been vilified, alleged to be the king of corrupt people.”

He has claimed to be the victim of a conspiracy aiming to eradicate him from politics, and claims foreign agents are among those conspiring.

Why are people protesting against Zuma’s arrest?

Many are blaming Zuma’s close friends and family for inciting the violence across South Africa.

Zuma’s daughter took to Twitter to compare current President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, to apartheid-era leadership.

The Jacob G Zuma Foundation seemingly condoned the violent protests, also in a tweet.

They wrote: “The Foundation has noted the reactive righteous anger of the people of [South Africa], which others have characterised as violence.

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“When approached, the people are saying they [are] reacting to the violent provocation meted [sic] to them as manifested by incarcerating President Zuma without trial.”

In another tweet, the Foundation warned: “Peace and stability in South Africa is directly linked to the release of President Zuma with immediate effect.

“It was just pure malice to incarcerate President Zuma whilst litigation on his Detention Without Trial case (for a civil contempt) was on-going.”

What began as a small-scale demonstration in KwaZulu-Natal, soon escalated across South Africa’s provinces, with Zuma’s imprisonment posing as a catalyst for protests.

Province premier Sihle Zikala said many had died throughout KwaZulu-Natal as people flocked to loot food, electrical appliances, liquor and clothes.

Mr Zikala said: “Yesterday’s events brought a lot of sadness, the number of people who have died in KwaZulu-Natal alone stands at 26.

“Many of them died from being trampled on during the stampede while people were looting items.”

President Ramaphosa has described the violence as unprecedented in the 27 years following the end of South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Addressing his nation over the weekend, he appealed for peace while condemning the violence and vowing to hold unlawful protesters to account.

The President 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.”

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