A.In response to violent protests that have been going on in South Africa for days, the government is now deploying soldiers in the two provinces affected. In the province of Gauteng, to which the economic metropolis Johannesburg belongs, as well as in KwaZulu-Natal, the military will support the police, a military spokesman announced on Twitter on Monday. Since Thursday there have been violent riots in South Africa by demonstrators protesting against the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. A large shopping center in the east of the country was on fire on Monday, while protesters in the northern economic metropolis of Johannesburg paralyzed bus and train connections, as reported by the TV station eNCA. Tens of thousands of commuters were stuck, it was said.
The demonstrations, which began a few days ago as a protest against the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, have turned into “ethnically motivated violence,” warned President Cyril Ramaphosa in a televised address on Sunday evening.
Zuma belongs to the Zulu ethnic group, while Ramaphosa belongs to the Venda group and large parts of its supporters within the ruling party belong to the Xhosa group. Tribalism – demarcation along ethnic lines – is not tolerated in South Africa, said Ramaphosa; Violent criminals would be prosecuted.
Zuma was sentenced to a 15-month prison sentence last week for disregarding the judiciary, which he began on Wednesday. Since then, according to the government, riots have led to an estimated damage of 100 million rand (six million euros). Two people were killed and dozens injured in exchanges of fire between demonstrators and police. Protesters blocked major highways, looted shops and ATMs, and pelted cars with stones.
Zuma has to answer to a commission of inquiry for various allegations of corruption during his term of office (2009-2018), but did not accept a subpoena. On Monday, the Constitutional Court is examining Zuma’s application for the annulment of the prison sentence – a procedure that is not actually provided for in a supreme court decision.