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US closes consulate office in Durban as violent protest rocks South Africa

Violent rioting has erupted in two South African provinces against the imprisonment of former President, Jacob Zuma, with supporters blocking roads and looting shops.

Violent rioting has erupted in two South African provinces against the imprisonment of former President, Jacob Zuma, with supporters blocking roads and looting shops.

Following the violent unrest, the United States Consulate General in Durban, on Monday, issued a security alert and ordered closure of its office during normal business hours due to demonstrations and crime in the city.

According to an official statement by the US mission, businesses are being attacked and more would be most likely looted in the city. It noted that the government had failed to contain the demonstrations.

“Unrest and protest are expected today throughout KwaZulu Natal and in Durban’s central business district. High levels of criminal activity have been reported. Roadblocks and debris have been identified on many roadways. The situation throughout many areas of the province is unstable and authorities are not able to respond to all events,” the Consulate said in a statement on Monday.

The US mission in Johannesburg had also advised people to be wary of moving about following pockets of protests.

Nnesmen had reported that Zuma was serving a 15-month imprisonment 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.

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

Several hundred people looted and burned stores in the Alexandra and Bramley neighborhoods of Johannesburg, according to a statement by police Maj. Gen. Mathapelo Peters.

The body of a 40-year-old man was recovered from a shop that had been burned and police are investigating the circumstances, he said. In addition, at least three police officers were injured when trying to arrest looters and one was hospitalized.

Police said they are increasing capacity in both provinces and warned Zuma’s supporters against inciting violence on social media, saying they could become liable for criminal charges.

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