Troops conveyed in S. Africa after Zuma’s jailing prompts 6 passing

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South Africa said on Monday it had been deploying troops to its two most densely populated provinces after unrest sparked by the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma led to 6 deaths and widespread looting.

Overwhelmed police face mobs who have ransacked stores, carting away anything from boxes of alcohol to beds, refrigerators, and bathtubs.

Six people have died, some with gunshot wounds, and 219 people are arrested, consistent with a police tally issued before the military deployed.

Troops will “assist enforcement agencies deployed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces… to quell the unrest that has gripped both provinces within a previous couple of days,” the soldiers said during a statement.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who at the weekend involved calm, is predicted to deal with the state later Monday, his office said.

The violence raged because the Constitutional Court was hearing an application to review its landmark decision to jail Zuma for contempt of court. Judgment was reserved after a marathon 10-hour sitting.

The country’s top court on Saints Peter and Paul slapped Zuma with a 15-month term for snubbing a search into the corruption that stained his nine years in power.

Zuma began the sentence last Thursday but is seeking to possess the ruling put aside.

“This court made fundamentally rescindable errors,” Zuma’s lawyer Dali Mpofu argued in an online hearing before nine of the court’s 11 judges.

Zuma had been treated unfairly and his “right to mitigation was limited,” he said.

But one among the judges, Steven Majiedt, bluntly said Zuma had been convicted “because he disobeyed the order of this court.” Mpofu responded that Zuma was being “punished for quite the disobedience” of a writ.

Despite his reputation for graft and scandal, the 79-year-old former anti-apartheid fighter remains popular among many poor South Africans.

The epicenter of the unrest is Zuma’s home region, the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Shortly before the military’s announcement, troops were seen on the streets of its capital Pietermaritzburg and smoke billowed from the roof of an outsized mall. Banks, shops, and fuel stations within the city were shut.

Retail shops in Durban were looted on Monday while in Eshowe, a town near Zuma’s Nkandla home, police fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds after a supermarket was ransacked.

In Johannesburg, in Gauteng province, a photographer saw a corpse at one site, although the explanation for the death wasn’t immediately known.

A police helicopter hovered over the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto, where looters casually made off with giant TV sets, microwave ovens, clothes, and linen, for hours.

Many businesses shuttered.

A mall in Johannesburg’s upmarket Rosebank suburb closed early following “a tipoff that the looters are on their way,” a watchman said.

On the sidewalks, workers queued up to catch commuter mini-buses to travel back home.

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