South Africa, riots and looting after former president Zuma’s arrest: government recalls reservists for the first time in decades
The government of South Africa intends to deploy 25,000 troops to put an end to the riots that erupted after the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma last week, which has so far killed 72 people. This is ten times the number of troops deployed earlier this week to assist the police, already doubling yesterday from 2,500 to 5,000, and the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994 that the government has recalled reservists.
The protests led to looting and violence that hit several important supply chains and transport hubs, threatening the country’s food and fuel supplies. According to official figures, more than 3,000 people have been arrested so far.
Zuma, president from 2009 to 2018, surrendered himself to the authorities last week after being sentenced on June 29 to 15 months in prison by the country’s Constitutional Court. Zuma’s arrest was initially seen as a success for the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa, the successor to the 79-year-old former apartheid fighter. In the days following his arrest, violent protests broke out, mostly in his native province of KwaZulu-Natal, where the former president is still popular, and in Gauteng, where Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria are located.
In yesterday alone, 208 incidents of looting and vandalism were recorded, while more than 200 shopping centers have so far been damaged or looted.