On Sunday, shops were looted overnight and a section of the M2 highway was closed in Johannesburg due to sporadic acts of violence following the jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma.
As of Wednesday night, most of the violence had taken place in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where he started serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court.
The police said criminals were exploiting the anger over Zuma’s imprisonment to steal and damage property.
In the Alexandra township and the Jeppestown suburb, looting has been reported by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD). There were reports of shots being fired at passing vehicles on the M2.
JMPD spokesman Wayne Minnaar said protests were ongoing in the Hillbrow neighbourhood on Sunday morning.
Jay Naicker, KZN police spokesman, said looting had also been reported in eThekwini, the municipality that includes Durban, and nine people had been arrested. That brings the total number of arrests in KZN since Friday to 37.
During this period, we saw a lot of criminals and opportunistic individuals trying to enrich themselves.
Major General Tommy Mthombeni, a police official in Gauteng, the province where Johannesburg is situated, said: “There is a link between what is happening in KwaZulu-Natal and what is happening in Gauteng.”
Zuma received the jail term for defying an order by the Constitutional Court to testify at an inquiry that is investigating high-level corruption during his nine years in power until 2018.
While he denies widespread corruption under his leadership, he has refused to cooperate with the inquiry set up in his final weeks in office.
Zuma has appealed his sentence in the constitutional court, partly based on his alleged frail health and the possibility of contracting COVID-19. The challenge will be heard on Monday