South Africa protests

July 12, 2021

Parts of the country are reeling from days and nights of public violence, destruction of property and looting of a sort rarely seen before in the history of our democracy.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as he authorized the military to confront widespread upheaval in South Africa.
  • Here’s the backstory: Several days ago, former president Jacob Zuma turned himself in to authorities. He was arrested and sentenced to 15 months in jail for repeatedly not participating in a corruption investigation related to his time in office (2009 to 2018).
  • Protests erupted in Zuma’s home province and soon ignited elsewhere including in the nation’s largest city, Johannesburg, and beyond – quickly spiraling out of control.
  • Context: Corruption allegations surfaced during Zuma’s time in office. Now, he is 79 years old and the first South African leader imprisoned since the end of apartheid nearly 30 years ago. A court is expected to decide soon about his appeal of his 15-month sentence.

Why It Matters: Although confronting its own unique challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and politics, South Africa remains one of Africa’s most developed nations and economies. The intensity and violence of the rioting, looting, etc. threatens overall safety and security – the violence has shut down major highways and reportedly led to the deaths of 10 people.

Here’s a good read on the latest and a video that gives perspective from the ground:

by Jenna Lee,