Buildings were set on fire and properties looted in South Africa on Monday as unrest sparked by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma last week continued for a fourth day.
The country’s top court, which ordered Zuma jailed for refusing to appear before a corruption probe, is holding a review of its decision with a ruling expected later on whether the sentence will be upheld.
The 79-year-old former anti-apartheid fighter remains popular, especially in his native KwaZulu-Natal province where he is seen to embody traditional values.
KwaZulu-Natal was hit hard by protests over the weekend, and on Monday flames could be seen coming from the roof of a shopping centre in provincial capital Pietermaritzburg as hordes of people rushed in to loot.
In Eshowe, a town near Zuma’s Nkandla home, police opened fire to disperse crowds after a supermarket was ransacked early on Monday.
Police said some sections of a major road in Johannesburg had been closed because of the protests.
Dozens of cars were torched over the weekend in Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal, where protests erupted a day after Zuma was imprisoned on Thursday.
Police said dozens have been arrested.
Although some of the protests appear to have been triggered by Zuma’s 15-month detention for contempt of court, they are tied in with economic hardship and tightened restrictions brought on by a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Cyril Ramaphosa urged “peaceful protest” during a speech on Sunday.
“While there are those who may be hurt and angry at this moment, there can never be any justification for such violent, destructive and disruptive actions,” he said.