Stick-wielding protesters march through the streets as violence following the jailing of former South African President Jacob Zuma spread to the country's main economic hub in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 11, 2021. REUTERS/ Siphiwe Sibeko
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Nigerians in South Africa urged to be vigilant as Zuma’s jail protest spreads

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As protests over the jailing of former South African President, Jacob Zuma spreads like wild fire, the leadership of the Nigerian community has urged Nigerians in South Africa to be vigilant and security conscious.

The protests that engulfed Kwa Zulu Natal and Gauteng Province has continued to spread to other parts of the country leaving in its mass looting and wanton destruction of properties.

The 79-year-old former president was jailed 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.

His bid to be released from the Estcourt Correctional Centre was rejected by a regional court on Friday. He is set to make another attempt on Monday with the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court.

The rioting by Zuma’s supporters began in his home region of KwaZulu-Natal province last week and spread during the weekend to Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city.

The President of Nigeria Union South Africa (NUSA), Mr Adetola Olubajo, gave the advice in a statement sent from Johannesburg on Monday.

Olubajo said during a fact-finding trip that the union was highly disturbed seeing the extent of looting, destructions and violence perpetrated by the angry protesters.

“Violent protest erupted in Kwa Zulu Natal province during the weekend after the incarceration of former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

“More than 18 trucks had been set ablaze, businesses looted and properties damaged.

“These violent protests spread on Sunday to some cities in Gauteng, especially Jeppetown, Jules Street, Hillbrow, Alexander, Springfield Park, Vosloorus areas of Johannesburg.

“These violent looting and attacks are spreading rapidly to other areas of Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal Province with cars burnt and businesses belonging to both locals and foreign nationals looted and destroyed,’’ he said.

The NUSA president said the South African Police had confirmed the arrest of over 200 offenders, several injured people, including a police officer who was shot in Johannesburg on Sunday and the death of six people.

Olubajo said the union had yet to get the identities of those arrested or those who died.

Car Mart belonging to Nigerians burnt in Zuma Protest

“At this point, the South African Police seem overwhelmed by the massive crowd and the situation is becoming out of hand.

“We have identified five businesses belonging to Nigerians that were looted and destroyed on Sunday, July 11, 2021, by the angry mob. It includes two car sales business outlets in Johannesburg.

“The looting and destructions of properties has continued unabated till today.

“Information reaching the union from Kwa Zulu Natal Province is that Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg, Bridge City Mall in KwaMashu and other major retail outlets in Durban Central Business District (CBD) were set on fire after valuables were looted,’’ Olubajo said

He noted that NUSA had appealed to Nigerians to remain calm and law abiding but be very vigilant.

He added that the NUSA national secretariat had already issued safety tips to Nigerians, and would continue to give such useful information to Nigerians.

“The union’s emergency management team are monitoring the situation and providing help to Nigerian nationals in areas it can.

“We also urge Nigerians to continue to observe all covid-19 protocols to avoid contacting the virus.’’

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