JOHANNESBURG, July 10 (Reuters) – South African police said on Saturday that 28 people had been arrested and one of the country’s largest motorways remained closed due to violent protests linked to former President Jacob Zuma’s prison.
Protests erupted this week in parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Zuma̵
On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected Zuma’s application to have his arrest overturned in a case that has been considered a test of the rule of law of the post-apartheid nation. An hour before the ruling, a Reuters photographer saw a group of protesters shout “Zuma!” burn tires and block a road. Read more
Zuma’s prison has revealed deep divisions in the ruling African National Congress (ANC), as a party faction remains loyal to the former president and has been a potent source of opposition to his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa.
KZN police spokesman Jay Naicker said the 28 arrests had been made since Friday on charges including public violence, burglary, malicious material damage and violation of the COVID-19 rules on incarceration.
He said protesters had set fire to some trucks near Mooi River, a city on the N3 motorway leading from Durban to Johannesburg, and shops had been looted in Mooi River and eThekwini, the municipality that includes Durban.
Law enforcement officials had been deployed to all districts in the province, but so far there had been no deaths or injuries, he added. From lunchtime, the N3 was closed by the Mooi River.
Ramaphosa, whose allies constructed Zuma’s deportation in 2018, said in a statement that “criminal elements must meet with the full force of the law”.
Asked about the protests from the public broadcaster SABC, a spokesman for Zuma’s charity fund said: “The people’s angry anger is due to the injustices they see being handed over to President Zuma”.
Zuma was jailed for defying an order by the Constitutional Court to testify in an investigation that investigated high-level corruption during his nine years in power.
He denies that there was widespread corruption under his leadership, but has refused to cooperate with the investigation set up in his final weeks in office.
Zuma has challenged his ruling in the Constitutional Court, in part because of his alleged fragile health and the risk of catching COVID-19. This challenge will be heard on Monday. Read more
KZN Prime Minister Sihle Zikalala said in a video message that the provincial government understood the “extreme anger” of those protesting.
“We are in a … unique situation where we are dealing with the arrest of the former president,” he said. “Unfortunately, violence and destruction often attack and involve people who are not involved.”
Reporting by Alexander Winning; Edited by Christina Fincher
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