Military deployed to tackle unrest over jailed ex-president
South Africa has deployed troops to fight deadly unrest sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.
Shops were looted and buildings set on fire on Monday as Zuma challenged his sentence in a court hearing.
At least six people have been killed and 200 arrested since the unrest began last week, after Zuma surrendered and began his 15-month sentence.
Zuma was found in contempt of court after failing to attend a corruption investigation during his presidency.
The 79-year-old man, who denies corruption, hopes to get his sentence quashed or reduced during the Constitutional Court hearing. However, legal experts say its chances of success are slim.
The case sparked an unprecedented legal drama in South Africa, which had never seen a former president jailed before.
A shopping center in the town of Pietermaritzburg, in Zuma’s hometown of KwaZulu-Natal, was burnt down on Monday. Images also showed other buildings and vehicles set on fire and shops looted.
The situation in Pietermaritzburg is volatile, reports BBC’s Noma Maseko from the city. Protesters responded to live ammunition when riot police fired rubber bullets to disperse them in one of the malls that were looted overnight, she said.
Police say opportunistic criminals took advantage of the chaos.
The violence also spread to Johannesburg, in Gauteng province.
On Sunday, protesters armed with clubs, golf clubs and branches were seen marching through Johannesburg’s central business district.
Some Covid vaccination sites have been forced to close for safety reasons.
The military said troops were being deployed to help police and “quell the unrest that gripped the two. [provinces] the last days”.
President Cyril Ramaphosa called for calm, saying nothing justifies the violence.
Zuma was convicted of defying an instruction to testify during a corruption investigation during his nine years in office.
He only testified once during the investigation into what has become “state capture”, that is, the siphoning of state property.
In a separate legal case, he pleaded not guilty last month in a corruption lawsuit involving a $ 5 billion (£ 3 billion) arms deal in the 1990s.
His supporters claim he is the victim of a political witch hunt, orchestrated by allies of Ramaphosa.
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