South Africa sends soldiers to two provinces to end protests

South African soldiers have been deployed to the streets to end protests which started after the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma and have so far led to the deaths of six people.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said the soldiers will be providing safety and safe environment for members of the police and other law enforcement agencies whilst they carry out their Constitutionally mandated law and order duties.

“The duration and number of deploying soldiers will be determined based on the assessment of the situation on the ground by the relevant law enforcement agencies,” the army said in a statement.

Protests erupted in South Africa last week after Zuma was arrested and then placed in prison.

The demonstrations turned violent with cases of looting and arson reported in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

Reuters reported that buildings were set on fire as items from burgled shops lay strewn by the side of the road in Pietermaritzburg in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

So far, six people have reportedly died and the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure says at least 219 people have been arrested.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday noted that some there are people “who may be hurt and angry”. He, however, appealed for calm, saying there can never be any justification for such violent and adding that the violence was damaging efforts to rebuild the economy after COVID-19.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court, after failing to attend an inquiry into corruption during his presidency.

On Monday, Zuma’s counsel asked the constitutional court to rescind his jail term.