Deadly riots and looting in South Africa after jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma

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Johannesburg Police in South Africa say 72 people have been killed and more than 1,200 arrested in unrest over the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. In a statement Tuesday night, police said Maj. Gene. Mathapelo Peters that many of the deaths were caused by stampedes when shops were looted.

Police trying to contain the chaos were completely outnumbered by the looters, and soldiers joined the police on Tuesday to try to quell the violence. CBS News correspondent Debora Patta reports that police used rubber bullets and tear gas against the crowd.

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The chaos was sparked by Zuma’s arrest last week for contempt of court. It started in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, but turned into opportunistic looting and rioting over the weekend, with protesters blocking roads and setting vehicles on fire.

TOPSHOT-SAFRICA-POLITICS-UNREST
A South Africa Police Service (SAPS) officer points his rifle at an incoming minibus that brings it to a stop in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, July 12, 2021, during clashes with residents of the Wolhuter Men’s Hostel amid widespread looting and rioting in the region.

MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty


Zuma was jailed on orders from South Africa’s constitutional court, which last month found him guilty of refusing to answer corruption charges before a commission of inquiry. The 15-month jail sentence was hailed as a victory for the rule of law Zuma repeatedly attacked the courts and even predicted a popular uprising against judges.

The former president denies all wrongdoing and appealed to the Constitutional Court to review his sentence. Meanwhile, the violence following his arrest has exposed deep tensions with the ruling African National Congress party he used to lead.

Many of the dead fell in a chaotic stampede as dozens of people looted food, electrical appliances, liquor and clothing from shopping malls, KwaZulu-Natal Prime Minister Sihle Zikalala told the press on Tuesday morning.


Corruption trial for former South African…

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Many of the dead fell in a chaotic stampede as dozens of people looted food, electrical appliances, liquor and clothing from shopping malls, KwaZulu-Natal Prime Minister Sihle Zikalala told the press on Tuesday morning.

“Yesterday’s events brought great sadness. The number of people killed in KwaZulu-Natal alone stands at 26. Many of them died from being trampled in a stampede while people looted things,” Zikalala said.

At least six people have been killed in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province, which includes the largest city of Johannesburg, officials said early Tuesday. But that was before another 10 bodies were discovered after looting in the Johannesburg township of Soweto.

The deployment of 2,500 soldiers to support South African police had not stopped Tuesday’s rampant looting, although arrests were made in some areas in Johannesburg.

What had been sporadic pro-Zuma violence evolved into the current wave of criminal thefts in poor township areas of the two provinces. The lawlessness had not yet spread to the other nine provinces of South Africa on Tuesday.

The Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, heard Zuma’s request for his sentence to be revoked on Monday. Zuma’s lawyer presented his arguments that the highest court made mistakes in sentencing Zuma to prison. After 10 hours of testimony on Monday, the judges said they would study the arguments and announce their decision at a later date.

The Associated Press contributed coverage.

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