The African Union (AU) has condemned violent protests that erupted in South Africa following the arrest and incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma last week Wednesday.

The Statement released by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Tuesday 13 July 2021 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia reads: “AU condemns in the strongest terms the surge of violence that has resulted in the deaths of civilians and appalling scenes of the looting of public and private property, destruction of infrastructure, including the suspension of essential services in Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng and other parts of South Africa.”

The Chairperson extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a rapid and full recovery to the wounded.

However, Mahamat has called for an urgent restoration of order, peace, and stability in the country in full respect of the rule of law.

He stresses that failure to do so can have grave impacts not only in the country but the Region as a whole.

The Chairperson reiterates the full and unwavering solidarity of the African Union Commission with the government and people of South Africa.

Violent riots and looting first broke out in the country last Thursday over the jailing of Zuma.

The protests that began in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal later spread to Johannesburg and have been ongoing for days.

The protests have since degenerated into chaos as demonstrators are burning vehicles, blocking the roads, and looting shops.

Major shopping venues in the country’s two most densely populated provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have been ransacked and some set on fire.

Vehicles and trucks were also burned by groups of protesters calling for Zuma’s release from prison.

Zuma, 79, started serving a prison term for contempt of court in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday night.

As of Wednesday, July 12, the death toll had risen to 72, according to authorities.

Police said late Tuesday that 1,234 people had been arrested for their role in rampant looting of businesses and destruction of property in both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

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