By Desire Tshuma
South Africa Council of Churches (SACC) has noted with deep concern the violence and destruction of property that is engulfing South Africa since Thursday 8 July last week after the imprisonment of former South African President Jacob Zuma
The violence is resulting in untold suffering in many quarters of the society and this is explained and justified based on the recent court decision as they affect former President Jacob Zuma. There are some who believe that Mr. Zuma was denied justice, others explain that he was given enough space to express himself in the judicial system which he rejected.
”Regardless of what anyone believes and whether the public protests result from the limited understanding of the complicated legal processes or not, is besides that point. The reality is that the protests arising from this have opened the space of large-scale criminality that is fed by poverty, and nothing to lose mindset and the deep-seated anger in the absence of hope, ” said SACC General Secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana
Videos and photos of protesters looting malls in South Africa are circulating on social media platforms and the most affected provinces are Kwazulu Natal (KZN ) and Gauteng. The South Africa Police Service ( SAPS) tried to use minimum force to stop the destructions and looting but to no avail, forcing President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency by deploying the army to contain the violent protests.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma is facing charges of contempt of court for the offence that he committed during his tenure as South Africa President. The protests came after Mr. Zuma handed himself to the police last week to serve his 15 months sentence for contempt of court. Mr. Zuma clansmen rejected the court order and went to the streets in protest. Malls have been destroyed and looted by criminals leaving a trail of disaster.
”In this, we now have wanton destruction and even the possible involvement of organized crime whose purpose will be to permanently undermine the country’s institutions. In this category are those who seek to target strategic institutions, which takes the problem to another level of calculated lawlessness,” added Bishop Mpumlwana
The South Africa Council of Churches also noted with dismay that if the protests and lootings were the conditions under which Mr. Zuma’s freedom was to be pursued, it was out of the law.
”Are there both legal and humanitarian conditions under which his imprisonment for contempt can be reviewed and yet ensure not to undermine the constitutional underpinnings of South Africa?” enquired Bishop Mpumlwana.
“The court yesterday was sitting to hear his request for his sentence to be rescinded and reversed and no actions should seek to interfere with that process and its outcomes. Any options available to Zuma beyond the court processes will not be helped by the public violence and criminality. We are a human rights society which provides for the right to protest but the right we enjoy must be exercised with responsibility and this is not the way to go,” added Bishop Mpumlwana.
Many trucks were destroyed in Mooi River. They were owned by black entrepreneurs who have lost everything that depended on the industry. As of Wednesday, South Africa had recorded 60 violence and protests related death and currently, Covid -19 has claimed over 65 000 lives.