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Last week’s arrest of Jacob Zuma has seen an uproar of violent protests in the KwaZulu-Natal province, with parts of the major N3 transport route closed after numerous trucks were set alight on Friday night. The protests have since spread to Gauteng, and Johannesburg in particular. Reports of looting and at least one death have been reported. Speaking to Bloomberg, Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Xolani Fihla said that the police cannot confirm what has sparked the violent protesting, but there’s “an expectation that it aligns with the free-Zuma protests.” In a televised speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke out against the violence, warning those involved that they will be arrested and prosecuted. Currently in the midst of a deadly Covid-19 third wave, South African businesses are having to contend with tough restrictions in an already fragile economy. “In addition to being lawless and endangering lives, these actions have a devastating impact on an already fragile economy and on investor confidence,” said Business Unity South Africa. – Jarryd Neves
Pro-Zuma protests spread to South Africa’s economic hub
By Roxanne Henderson
(Bloomberg) – Violent protests in South Africa linked to last week’s arrest of former President Jacob Zuma have spread to Johannesburg, the nation’s economic hub, with another major road shuttered.
That followed the closure of a key trade route in the country’s eastern KwaZulu-Natal province after trucks were torched on Friday night. Parts of the N3 Toll Route, which links the port city of Durban with important business districts in the Gauteng province, have reopened, yet access to the M2 highway in Johannesburg is restricted in some areas after violence erupted in the city overnight.
The situation remains tense, Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Xolani Fihla said by phone. “At the moment we cannot confirm what sparked the violence but there is an expectation that it aligns with the free-Zuma protests.”
#JHBTraffic Commuter Alert !!!
Due to marches in and around Johannesburg, @JoburgMetrobus is suspending the service with immediate effect. Operations will resume as soon as it’s safe to do so.
The company apologises for the inconvenience caused #saferjoburg #JoburgRoadSafety ^NB pic.twitter.com/UCQAGXcucd
— City of Joburg (@CityofJoburgZA) July 12, 2021
More than 60 people have been arrested and authorities worked to disperse hundreds of protesters as businesses across the two affected regions were hit by looting, police said in a statement on Sunday.
At least one death has been reported. “An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of a 40-year-old man who was certified dead at a local clinic,” police said.
The protests began last week as Zuma’s supporters called for his release after the ex-president turned himself in to authorities on July 7. Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail for defying a court order to testify at a graft inquiry. He denies any wrongdoing and is challenging the sentence, with a court hearing set for Monday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the violence in a televised address to the nation on Sunday, and warned that all those involved will be arrested and prosecuted.
“While there are those who may be hurt and angry at this moment, there can never be any justification for such violent, destructive and disruptive actions,” he said. “It is a matter of concern to all South Africans that some of these acts of violence are based on ethnic mobilisation.
The outbreak of violence is a response to an “unjust” system, Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesman Mzwanele Manyi told Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA in an interview on Saturday. “It is the result of a vicious sentence given to a 79-year-old man without giving him the right to a fair trial.”
Even as protests flared, police were deployed along major routes to help enforce rules around gatherings to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“A warning is issued to those circulating inflammatory messages, inciting violence and lawlessness, that they refrain from doing so,” police said on Sunday. “The possibility of criminal charges being instituted against such persons cannot be ruled out.”
Various business lobby groups have made statements condemning the violence. “In addition to being lawless and endangering lives, these actions have a devastating impact on an already fragile economy and on investor confidence,” said Business Unity South Africa.
– With assistance from Mike Cohen.
From BizNews community member
We drove this morning at 4:30am from Nottingham road in the Midlands to Durban, with our two children to catch a flight out, not realising how bad the roads were, and encountered a big tree laying across the road with plastic crates lined along the tree clearly intended to be a barricade, at Tweedy off ramp Howick.
We slowed down dodged the crates and ramped over the tree with our defender. As we slowed down a petrol bomb was thrown at our car and bounced of the back corner. Not many cars would have made it over or through.
Terrifying for us and kids.
We passed burning shopping mall in maritzburg on route, burnt out Cars, debris, protestors etc. We couldn’t even turn back because we were getting reports that it’s getting worse on roads where we came from.
We never imagined this kind of thing can happen and so fast. It’s in fact very dangerous to leave your home in riot areas, do not take the risk.
We arrived shaken but safe at Airport. How quickly things can turn in this county.
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