Violent protests in South Africa after the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma have spread from Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal to other parts of the country. The violence has been ongoing for several days and the death toll is at least 32 as of Tuesday morning.
The death toll in the province where the violence began on Friday has risen to 26, Sihle Zikalala told a press conference.
He added that six people had died in the Johannesburg metropolitan area, as confirmed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening.
The army was called in on Monday to contain the violence in South Africa, on the fourth day of violence initially triggered by the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma.
Incidents broke out on Friday in Zulu country, where Mr Zuma is originally from, and where he was imprisoned after being sentenced to 15 months for contempt of court.
Since then, the unrest has spread to the poorer areas of Johannesburg where Mr Zuma’s fate is largely irrelevant.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has appealed to South Africans to consider the consequences of their actions.
“The path of violence, of looting and anarchy leads only to more violence and devastation. As well as suffering, it leads to more poverty, more unemployment and more loss of innocent life. This is not who we are as South Africans, this is not us.” President Ramaphosa said.
“It is, therefore, a matter of vital importance that we restore calm and stability to all parts of the country without any delay,” he stressed.
The sporadic pro-Zuma protests broke out when he handed himself over last week and have since escalated into looting and arson. Police say at least 500 suspects have been arrested.
It is a chaos of “criminals and opportunistic individuals” at work, as a police spokesman put it, targeting shopping centers and shops.