South African police arrest 62 after violent protests

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The South African police said that they have arrested 62 people on Sunday in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Province as people protested against the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma started serving his 15 months jail for contempt of court from last Wednesday. People in his hometown KwaZulu-Natal started looting shops, burning trucks and blocking roads calling for his release, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The protests spread to Gauteng, where the economic centre Johannesburg and administrative capital city Pretoria located, on Saturday and Sunday.

In Johannesburg many people chanting slogans in support of Zuma marched in Johannesburg city centre calling for Zuma’s release. Shops closed and there was little movement in town.

“62 people have been arrested as the police continue to respond to opportunistic criminality emanating from violent protests over the weekend in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng province,” said Spokesperson for the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS) Col Brenda Muridili.

“The police are working closely with their respective local Metro police departments, have heightened visibility and remain on high alert in response to incidents of opportunistic criminality and violent protests in the two provinces over the weekend,” she added.

She stated that they arrested people who were looting businesses and barricading roads in Johannesburg’s Jeppe and Alexandra townships.

Muridili said that in another instance about 800 people attacked police, resulting in the shooting of police officers who have now received medical attention in hospital.

“A warning is issued to those circulating inflammatory messages, inciting violence and lawlessness, that they refrain from doing so. The possibility of criminal charges being instituted against such persons cannot be ruled out, particularly in the event of injury or death that may come as a result of any operational response by the security forces to these incidents of violence and opportunistic criminality,” she said.

Muridili said that they are investigating the death of a 40-year-old man who was shot in Johannesburg’s Bramley.

–IANS

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