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South Africa Sends Troops to Quell Zuma Protests

South Africa sent troops to quell riots that left six people dead since former President Jacob Zuma reported to a prison facility last week.

Security forces were deployed in two states Monday, as police were overwhelmed by protests and looting, and a South African court began hearing an appeal launched by Zuma on his lengthy prison sentence.

Police said Monday that 219 people have been arrested in connection to riots and looting.

According to Reuters, Zuma's lawyers asked the court to release the 79-year-old former leader partly on the grounds that the Constitutional Court improperly imposed the sentence in his absence.

Zuma reported to a prison facility in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal last week to begin serving a 15-month sentence on contempt of court charges after he failed to testify before a special inquiry looking into wide-ranging allegations of official corruption during his nine years in office, which ended in 2018.

His lawyers are also arguing that he will be at risk of catching COVID-19 while imprisoned.

Zuma has denied the allegation and refused to participate in the inquiry that began during his final weeks in office.

Protests spread from KwaZulu-Natal into the country's main economic hub of Johannesburg Sunday, with several shops looted, and a section of the major M2 highway closed as some protests turned violent. Reuters said television footage showed a mall ablaze in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for calm Sunday, urging protesters to demonstrate peacefully.

"People have been intimidated and threatened, and some have even been hurt," Ramaphosa said.

Zuma, a prominent anti-apartheid fighter, remains popular, despite the allegations of corruption.

Source: Voice of America