Unrest in South Africa; President appeals for calm


Unrest in South Africa; President appeals for calm

Dozens of people have been arrested in South Africa as violence spreads following the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma.

Pro-Zuma protesters first took to the streets after the 79-year-old handed himself to authorities on Wednesday to begin a 15-month sentence.

But police now say criminals are taking advantage of the chaos, which spread from his home province of KwaZulu-Natal to Johannesburg, in Gauteng.

Images show buildings and cars burning.

Part of a major highway in Johannesburg – South Africa’s economic hub – had to be closed off after gunshots were heard.

Police also responded to reports of looting in both Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal. More than 60 people have been arrested so far.

It is unclear if they are linked to the pro-Zuma protests, with KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Jay Naicker telling news agency Reuters officers had seen “criminals or opportunistic individuals trying to enrich themselves during this period”.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa appealed for calm on Saturday, but on Sunday protesters with sticks, golf clubs and branches were seen marching through Johannesburg’s central business district.

The jailing of a former president is unprecedented in South Africa, which has been gripped by Zuma’s legal turmoil.

He was sentenced for contempt of court, after failing to attend an inquiry into corruption during his presidency.

Zuma denies corruption and has not co-operated with the legal process.

The case is due back in the Constitutional Court on Monday, with Zuma’s team hoping to get his sentence rescinded or reduced. On Friday, South Africa’s High Court dismissed at attempt to stay his arrest.