President Ramaphosa deploys South African military to quell violence
African President Cyril Ramaphosa appealed for calm cross the country following days
of protests that were triggered by last week’s jailing of ex-President Jacob Zuma.
Speaking during a televised address on Monday night, President Ramaphosa said he has deployed the country's military to restore calm after days of violent protests.
"We will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute those who perpetrate these actions and ensure they face the full might of the law," Ramaphosa said in a national address.
"It is this rule of law that enables our society to function and our economy to develop in the interests of the people of South Africa."
Ramaphosa acknowledged the protests and looting may have begun with political grievances, but that criminal elements had taken over.
“What we are witnessing now are opportunistic acts of criminality, with groups of people instigating chaos merely as a cover for looting and theft,” he said
The riots began in former President Jacob Zuma’s home base of KwaZulu-Natal province and spread to the nation’s economic hub of Gauteng over the weekend, disrupting commerce and transport networks.
This current violence is among the worst the nation has seen since the end of white minority rule in 1994 with the death toll rising to more than 30.
Zuma, 79, was slapped with the prison stretch on June 29 for refusing to appear before an anti-graft hearing.
He is seeking to have that ruling set aside on the grounds of his alleged frail health and the risk of catching COVID-19.
Legal experts say Zuma's chances of success are slim.
The South African economy is struggling to emerge from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing it to repeatedly impose restrictions on businesses that have hurt an already fragile recovery.
The crisis may have widened the gulf between the rich and the poor. Growing joblessness has left people ever more desperate. Unemployment stood at a new record high of 32.6 percent in the first three months of 2021.
The legacies of colonialism persist in South Africa with the minority white people still controlling a large chunk of the country's economy.
High levels of poverty and rampant unemployment still haunt black communities.