South African president calls for calm amid violence following Zuma’s incarceration

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA DECEMBER 08, 2017: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during an interview in his home in Hyde Park on December 08, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ramaphosa shot down President Jacob Zumas proposal to have the loser candidate automatically be made the deputy president with the election only days away. (Photo by Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday called for calm after some people looted shops and burnt trucks calling for the release of former President Jacob Zuma.

“President Ramaphosa says the impact of public violence against the road freight industry and damage to freeways that serve as economic arteries will be felt also by the people organizing and committing these crimes. The President says the reasons allegedly advanced for the violence in KwaZulu-Natal cannot be used to legitimize vandalism and public violence,” said the acting spokesperson in the Presidency Tyrone Seale.

People burnt trucks and tyres on the N3, N2 and M7 and other key roads around the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma who was given a 15-month sentence after defying the Constitutional Court’s order which compelled him to appear and give evidence at the state capture commission in February.

The South African police have arrested more than 20 suspects for violent protest which resulted in at least 25 trucks being torched in KwaZulu-Natal.

On Friday the “Free Zuma” group blocked roads, burning cars and attacking motorists calling for Zuma’s release. The police on Saturday said they have beefed up deployment to contain the protests.

“A large number of people have already been arrested for incidents of criminality witnessed in the province yesterday and cases have been registered to trace and arrest those that still have to be arrested. A number of incidents were witnessed today of people who are opportunistic and used today’s protest to enrich themselves by looting shops and other businesses,” said KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Jay Naicker.

He stated that they will arrest those doing illegal gatherings, not observing curfew regulations and looting shops.

Naicker said they have deployed police officers across the province to deal with protests, adding that the long arm of the law will catch up with those committing crimes