S/Africa: Pro-Zuma protests escalate amid looting, traffic blockades

Violent “Free Jacob Zuma” protests escalated in Durban and other parts of South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province on Monday as marauding…

Violent “Free Jacob Zuma” protests escalated in Durban and other parts of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province on Monday as marauding gangs shut down the region, looted shops and disrupted traffic.The protests, which began on July 9 and were sparked by last week’s arrest of former president Jacob Zuma over contempt of court, were punctuated by sounds of gunshots and explosions as looting and mayhem continued in many parts KwaZulu-Natal on Monday.

Major routes to the city were closed to traffic, with the in KwaZulu-Natal chapter of the South African National Taxi Council announcing on Monday that public taxis would not be operating.

“This in protection of the same taxis that may be damaged,” the council said in a statement.

According to eye witnesses, some protesters were seen carrying away looted appliances, including television sets and washing machines, as well as trolleys of groceries. 

Other reports said some shopping malls were set alight by the gangs. 

The protests have also spread to other parts of South Africa, including the commercial hub, Johannesburg, the administrative capital Pretoria, and Mpumalanga province.

Looting scenes were reported in Johannesburg.

Zuma handed himself to the police on July 7 after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that he was guilty of contempt of court after he defied an earlier order to testify before a commission investigating high-level corruption during his tenure in office between 2008 and 2018.

The former president accuses the commission’s head, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, of being biased against him.

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