Roads block off several trucks and commercial property set ablaze since Friday in KwaZulu-Natal — the home of former South African president Jacob Zuma, whose supporters have been on a fiery rampage and looting spree in protest of his 15-month prison sentence.
Zuma is serving time for defying a court order to testify before a state-backed inquiry probing allegations of corruption during his term as president from 2009 to 2018.
Zuma turned himself over to police late Wednesday night.
Scores of Zuma’s supporters who gathered outside his home in Nkandla last weekend had threatened violence should the former president be sent to prison.
At Mooi River, near Pietermaritzburg, about 20 trucks were stopped and set on fire early Saturday, according to witnesses.
Mayor Maile, a truck driver in the area, is rather concerned about the situation.
“I saw these trucks burn since I arrived here yesterday. The police had blocked off trucks on one side, but the protesters came from a different direction and continued burning trucks. They had burnt four trucks on that side and one truck on this side. Throughout the night they continued burning trucks as they piled up.”
A truck ferrying new luxury vehicles could be seen burning along a major road.
A truck for the United Nations World Food Programme was also set alight after protesters took bags of maize meal from the vehicle.
A large retail supermarket in the area was also looted.
Some motorists were turned away from areas hit by the protests.
Willard, a local truck driver, appears a bit discombobulated.
“My truck is down there and we are not moving. So we don’t know what’s happening, what’s going on. And we don’t know what these guys, when they come back again, maybe they are going to burn us here. We don’t know what is going to happen next.”
More police officers have been deployed to affected areas to monitor major highways entrances and search vehicles. Around 27 people have been arrested for their involvement in the violent demonstrations
Zuma’s supporters demand his release from the Estcourt Correctional Center. His own bid was rejected by a regional court on Friday and he will try again for his freedom at the nation’s apex court on Monday.