South Africa has deployed soldiers to quell violence that erupted in the wake of former president Jacob Zuma’s jailing, the military said on Monday, after days of protests and looting left at least six people dead.
Disturbances worsened as Zuma challenged his 15-month prison term in the country’s top court after weekend unrest by pro-Zuma protesters in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng, where the country’s largest city Johannesburg is located.
Police said 219 arrests had been made, as looting and setting buildings ablaze spread over Zuma’s incarceration.
Any confrontation with soldiers risks fuelling claims by Zuma and his supporters that they are victims of a politically-motivated crackdown by his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zuma, 79, was sentenced late last month for defying a constitutional court order to give evidence at an inquiry investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in office until 2018.
The decision to jail him resulted from legal proceedings seen as a test of post-apartheid South Africa’s ability to enforce the rule of law, including against powerful politicians.
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