South Africa deploys troops as unrest grows following Zuma’s imprisonment.
As turmoil prompted by ex-president Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment began its fourth day, the South African army said it was deploying troops to two provinces, including Johannesburg, to assist police in combating deadly violence and looting.
Overworked cops are battling rioters that have robbed establishments and carted away everything from booze crates to beds, refrigerators, and bath tubs.
According to a police tally, six individuals have died, some of them from gunshot wounds, and 219 people have been arrested.
After receiving a request for assistance, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) claimed it had “commenced with pre-deployment processes.”
The SANDF stated in a statement that personnel will “assist law enforcement forces deployed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces respectively to suppress the unrest that has seized both provinces in the previous few days.”
The violence erupted as the Constitutional Court considered whether Zuma should be imprisoned for contempt of court. Later, an announcement is expected.
Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison by the country’s top court on June 29 for obstructing an investigation into the corruption that plagued his nine years in power.
Zuma began serving his term on Thursday, although he is appealing the decision.
In an on-line hearing before nine of the court’s 11 judges, Zuma’s lawyer Dali Mpofu said, “What we are claiming is that this court committed fundamentally rescindable errors.”
Zuma said he had been treated unfairly and that his “right to mitigation” had been limited.
However, one of the judges, Steven Majiedt, stated flatly that Zuma was convicted “because he defied this court’s order.”
Zuma is being “punished for more than disobedience” of a court order, according to Mpofu.
Despite his fraud and scandal-plagued past, the 79-year-old former anti-apartheid activist is still popular among many poor South Africans.
Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, in the southeastern province of South Africa, is the epicenter of the disturbance.
Troops were visible on the streets of the country’s capital, Pietermaritzburg, shortly before the military’s statement, and smoke billowed from the roof of a huge shopping center. On Monday, the city’s banks, shops, and gas stations were closed.
A retail business in Durban was plundered early Monday, while police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Eshowe, a town near Zuma’s Nkandla residence, after a grocery was ransacked.
An AFP photographer noticed a corpse at one place in Johannesburg, Gauteng province, however the cause of death was not immediately revealed.
A police aircraft hovered over the Soweto neighborhood of Johannesburg, where looters were casually looting. Brief News from Washington Newsday.