Amnesty International South Africa (AISA) condemns the looting and lawlessness seen during demonstrations in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng calling for former president Jacob Zuma to be released from prison.
“Calm and restraint is needed from both sides at this time. The looting and lawlessness goes against the right to protest and those responsible must be arrested and face the might of the law,” says AISA’s Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed.
“While the Bill of Rights in the Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to protest, this has to be done peacefully. We are also calling for restraint by police in the use of non-lethal weapons to get these demonstrations under control,” adds Mohamed.
AISA is also concerned about reports that a person has been shot and killed in Gauteng. Police must investigate whether this is linked to the ongoing protests and bring perpetrators to book.
Section 17 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution states that: “Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions”.
Zuma handed himself over to authorities in KwaZulu-Natal on the evening of 8 July 2021. This after the Constitutional Court found that he was guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison.
Zuma approached the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 6 July in a bid to have the execution of that order stayed, pending his application for the rescission of the Constitutional Court’s contempt ruling. The high court dismissed the matter on 9 July 2021. The Constitutional Court will hear his rescission application on 12 July 2021.
Since handing himself over, #FreeZumaNow protests have erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and have spread to Gauteng.
It was reported on 11 July 2021, that police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at protesting residents in various areas of Johannesburg.
It was reported that one person had been shot and killed in Gauteng. A probe is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting. Police are reported to have arrested 62 suspects so far.
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