South Africa: Military deployed to halt unrest over jailed ex-president

South Africa has sent its military to quell protests that have erupted after former President Jacob Zuma was imprisoned. 

On Monday, shops were plundered and structures were set on fire while Zuma fought his sentencing in the Supreme Court. 

Since the disturbance began last week, at least six people have been killed and 200 have been jailed. Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court after he failed to appear at a corruption investigation during his presidency. 

Last Thursday, the 79-year-old, who denies any wrongdoing, surrendered to authorities to begin his 15-month term.

At the Constitutional Court hearing, he hopes to have the sentence vacated or reduced. Legal experts, on the other hand, believe his chances of victory are poor. 

The issue has triggered a legal saga in South Africa, which has never seen a former president imprisoned before. 

On Monday, footage showed a fire and looting at a retail center in Pietermaritzburg, in Zuma’s home region of KwaZulu-Natal. 

In Gauteng province, the violence has extended to Johannesburg. 

Protesters welding sticks, golf clubs, and branches marched through Johannesburg’s central business district on Sunday. 

According to the military, troops are being sent to help law enforcement authorities “quell the unrest that has gripped both [provinces] in the last few days.” 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for calm, stating that the violence is unjustified. 

During his nine years in power, Zuma was found guilty of refusing an order to testify before a corruption investigation.

He has only testified once at the investigation into what has come to be known as “state capture,” or the siphoning off of government assets. 

He pleaded not guilty last month in a corruption trial concerning a $5 billion (£3 billion) arms sale from the 1990s. 

His supporters claim he is the victim of a political witch hunt carried out by Ramaphosa’s allies.

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