The Supreme Court sentenced him to 15 months in prison for outrage and reticence
The toll of protests and looting in various South African cities since last Thursday is at least 32 dead and 800 arrests: the violence broke out after the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma, sentenced by the Supreme Court to 15 months of imprisonment for outrage and reticence, but also to the situation of economic and social uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Several videos released on social media and verified by InfoAfrica show dozens of people, between Sunday and Monday, attacking and ransacking shops and shops in various South African cities: in KwaZulu-Natal, the hometown of Zuma, several videos show a big fire hanged in a shopping center while dozens of protesters attack him to loot him. The protests, animated in particular by supporters of Zuma, convinced that the former president is the victim of a witch hunt, orchestrated by the allies of the current head of state Cyril Ramaphosa, are currently facing a crossroads: to force the tones or withdraw. Ramaphosa, in a televised speech, appealed for calm, stating that people “can be hurt and angry” but at the same time “there is no justification” for violence.
Zuma, currently detained at the Estcourt Correctional Center, was jailed for challenging a court order requiring him to testify as part of a state investigation investigating cases of high-level corruption, embezzlement and distraction of public funds during his term as president, between 2009 and 2018. The former president completely rejects the accusations against him. Zuma’s appeal to be released was rejected last Friday by a regional court. But it is not only politics that push so many South Africans to protest. With over 16 thousand cases of Covid-19 a day, the country is confirmed as one of the most affected on the African continent and also one of the most in difficulty in terms of the vaccination campaign and economic data. The Solidarity union, which represents the Afrikaner minority, has asked the government to privatize the vaccination campaign: “The government acts as a bottleneck” for the procurement and distribution of vaccines, according to a press release. The country is currently at alert level 4 regarding the pandemic, a step below the maximum alarm: night curfew between 21 and 4, schools closed until July 26, as well as activities such as restaurants and bars. The third South African wave is “much more serious than the previous two”, says the government that on the one hand it is considering the partial reopening of some activities, on the other it has extended the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages and any type of public meeting for next two weeks. A further element of stress and exasperation for the population and which contributes to throwing fuel on the fire of the protests in recent days. The national association of brewers (Basa) argues that these taxes on alcohol put 4,600 workers in the sector at risk while Ramaphosa himself argues that prohibition, at this moment, serves to reduce the pressure on hospitals because there are fewer hospitalization for road accidents or intoxications attributable to alcohol abuse