Soldiers and police were struggling to restore order in parts of South Africa on Tuesday, as police said the number of people killed in days of protests and looting rose to at least 72 in some of the worst violence the country has seen in years. Protests erupted last week as former South African President Jacob Zuma, 79, turned himself in to authorities to serve a 15-month jail term for contempt of court.
At least 30 people have now died in the violence which has been engulfing parts of South Africa since the country’s former President Jacob Zuma handed himself into police last week. Almost 800 people have been arrested in the unrest which began as protests following Zuma’s jailing on Thursday. But protests turned violent over the weekend, with fires set, highways blocked and businesses looted.
Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after failing to appear before a corruption inquiry earlier this year. Zuma, 79, who was the president for nearly nine years until 2018, was not present to hear the South African constitutional court deliver its ruling and sentence. The judge ordered the former president to hand himself in within five days.
More than 1,000 fortune seekers on Monday flocked to the village of KwaHlathi in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province in search of what they believed to be diamonds after a discovery of unidentified stones in the area. The people traveled from across South Africa to join villagers who have been digging since Saturday, after a herd man who dug up the first stone on an open field, which some believe to be quartz crystals, put out the word.
The Zulu royal family has announced “with deepest shock and distress” the sudden death of its queen weeks after she was named interim leader of South Africa’s largest ethnic group of about 12 million people. The unexpected loss of Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, 65, has thrown the nation into flux only a month after the death of her husband, Goodwill Zwelithini, who ruled for almost 50 years.
Thousands of people are being evacuated from Table Mountain in Cape Town where winds are continuing to fan forest fires towards neighborhoods. Around 250 firefighters are trying to control the blaze as thick smoke obscures visibility throughout the city center. Reports said up to 50,000 people were being moved to safety as helicopters continued to drop water on threatened areas.
King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulu nation in South Africa has died in hospital where he was being treated for diabetes-related issues. The king, 72, was the leader of South Africa’s largest ethnic group and an influential traditional ruler. Throughout his 50 year-reign he was a strong advocate for preserving cultural identity. South Africa’s president has described him as a “much-loved visionary”.
South Africa halted Monday’s planned rollout of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccinations after data showed it gave minimal protection against mild infection from one variant, stoking fears of a much longer cat-and-mouse battle with the pathogen. Researchers from the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Oxford said in a prior-to-peer analysis that the AstraZeneca vaccine provided minimal protection against mild or moderate infection from the South African variant among young people.
South Africa’s COVID-19 spike has taken the country to more than 1 million confirmed cases on Sunday and President Cyril Ramaphosa called an emergency meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council. The country’s new variant of the coronavirus, 501.V2, is more contagious and has quickly become dominant in many areas of the resurgence, according to experts.
South Africa has temporarily closed its embassy in Nigeria following violence against South African businesses in reprisal for attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg, while Nigeria has announced plans to evacuate its nationals from South Africa. The announcement, which signals worsening diplomatic relations between the two African countries, comes after Nigeria introduced plans to evacuate its nationals from South Africa following a wave of attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians.