BACKPAGE: As Ex-President Zuma Prepares To Go To Jail(Opens in a new browser tab)
Violence spread yesterday over the jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma.
Massive looting was carried out in the former president’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal and spread to economic hub of Johannesburg
Shops were looted overnight and a section of the M2 highway was closed in Johannesburg yesterday as violence following the jailing of Zuma spread to the country’s main economic hub.
Violence had mainly been concentrated in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where on Wednesday night he began a 15-month sentence for contempt of court.
Police said some of those carrying out theft and damage were taking advantage of their anger at Zuma’s imprisonment.
The Johannesburg Metropolitan police department (JMPD) said there had been looting in the Alexandra township and Jeppestown suburb. The M2 was closed off after reports of shots being fired at passing vehicles.
Protests were continuing in the Hillbrow neighbourhood yesterday morning, a JMPD spokesperson, Wayne Minnaar, said.
A KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Jay Naicker, said that there had also been looting in eThekwini, the municipality that includes Durban, and that nine people had been arrested, taking the number of arrests in the province since Friday to 37. “We saw a lot of criminals or opportunistic individuals trying to enrich themselves during this period,” he said.
A senior police official in Gauteng, the province where Johannesburg is located, told the public broadcaster SABC: “What is happening in KwaZulu-Natal, there is a link in a way with Gauteng.”
Zuma was given the jail term for defying an order from the constitutional court to give evidence at an inquiry that is investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in power until 2018. He denies that there was widespread corruption under his leadership but has refused to cooperate with the inquiry that was set up in his final weeks in office.
Zuma has challenged his sentence in the constitutional court, partly on the grounds of what he says is his frail health and the risk of catching Covid-19. That challenge will be heard on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa (NICASA) has urged compatriots living in that country to take precautions while doing business in troubled areas, to avoid destruction of their goods and property.
The President-General of NICASA, Mr Benjamin Okoli, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday.
According to him, the South African arsonists are at it again leaving destruction on their trails. “Jules Street Johannesburg has been torched by these hoodlums, where they had destroyed properties of mostly foreign nationals.
“The attack started at about 2a.m. earlier this morning and had continued, the police have not been able to get access to the area, which had been blocked by the Zulu arsonists.
“We appeal to Nigerians to please keep away from this troubled area, until peace and normalcy return.
“Many Nigerians are business owners in those areas and most likely to be affected with this great loss. However irrespective of the loss, life is more important.
“We request our people to be vigilant and carefully monitor their movement in the affected areas and beyond,” Okoli said.
He explained the situation by saying South Africa is tense, arising from the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma, adding that his supporters had demanded for his immediate release.
He further expressed concern over unlawful attacks by South Africans on foreign nationals, including Nigerians to be worrisome.
“We bemoan the incessant attacks on Nigerians business and properties over matters that do not concern them.
“We have often been sacrificed on the altar of politics with great losses; we will continue to appeal to the appropriate authorities to provide protection, especially at a time like this,” he added.