Zikalala praises Zuma, says call for his release must be heard — 'but it cannot justify violence'
26 people have been killed in the riots
KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said the call for the release of former president Jacob Zuma from prison was understandable but not a justification for looting and violence.
In his update on the violent protests, widespread looting and vandalism that have swept through the province, Zikalala said it would be “good to see the former president released,” but the call had to be done peacefully.
“I think we must be clear here. There are two factors. The one factor is that there is a genuine cry for the release of former president Jacob Zuma, that must be understood and listened to peacefully and within the law. There is nothing wrong with people who call for the release within the law and not interfering with the rights of others. We, especially as the ANC, support that and we will call for that by following processes within the law and constitution.
“It would be good to see the former president released but it cannot justify violence. Vandalism, stealing in shops are criminal acts,” he said.
He said KwaZulu-Natal has great respect for Zuma.
“We cannot and should not in a matter of days destroy that legacy which Zuma fought and sacrificed so hard for. We are appealing to citizens of KwaZulu-Natal to give space to interventions proposed by government to bring peace.
“We understand calls for the release of Zuma as the main cause for the instability. The cause has degenerated into criminality. Zuma worked hard for our province and country”.
Police and private security companies battled to disperse protesters from Friday when the protest action, themed #FreeJacobZuma and #KZNShutdown on social media, saw violence erupt across the province. It has since spread to Gauteng.
Zikalala confirmed that 26 people have been killed in the riots. He said most had been killed in a stampede.
He said 187 people had been arrested since protests began.
Zikalala said he could not reveal where the army would be deployed in the province due to operational reasons.
“They are starting to man national key points in the province and will be deployed to other strategic areas.”