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South Africa: Violent rioting grips cities in wake of Zuma jailing

Johannesburg has been rocked by protests against the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, who was jailed for snubbing anti-corruption investigators. Zuma will seek to annul his prison sentence on Monday.

Zuma supporters block a highway with burning tyres during a protest

South African police have arrested dozens of people for looting and rioting in Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal province, where Zuma is being held

Violent rioting erupted across several South African cities on Sunday following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.

The violence was concentrated mainly in Zuma's home province of KwaZulu-Natal, where he began serving a 15-month sentence for contempt of court on Wednesday. But violence also spread to Gauteng province on Sunday, which includes Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city.

Shops were looted, and protesters blocked roads as they marched through the city.

The body of a 40-year-old man was recovered from a shop in Johannesburg that had been burned and police are investigating the circumstances, according to a statement by police Major General Mathapelo Peters.

At least three police officers were injured when trying to arrest looters and one was hospitalized, the statement added.

Police on Sunday said they had arrested 37 people in KwaZulu-Natal and 25 in Johannesburg over the previous two days.

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South Africa: 'The walls were closing' in on Jacob Zuma

Top court to review Zuma's jail term

Zuma has been jailed for defying a court order to testify before a state-backed inquiry probing allegations of high-level graft during his term as president from 2009 to 2018. The inquiry was set up in his final weeks in office.

Zuma's appeal to be released from the Estcourt Correctional Center was rejected by a regional court on Friday.

The former president, who denies there was widespread corruption under his leadership, will seek to have the ruling set aside on Monday with the Constitutional Court — South Africa's highest court — on the grounds that it was made in his absence.

Parliament's presiding officers on Sunday said that they were "sympathetic to the personal difficulties confronting former President Jacob Zuma. However, the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution must prevail."

President Cyril Ramaphosa, meanwhile, said there was no justification for violence and that it was hampering South Africa's efforts to rebuild the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Downfall of anti-apartheid hero Zuma

mvb/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)