A 36-year-old man, considered to be one of the “instigators” of the riots that inflamed South Africa in July 2021 and left over 350 people dead, was sentenced on Wednesday to 12 years in prison.
Mdumiseni Zuma is the first person to be convicted of “inciting unrest”, as part of the prosecution launched after the country’s worst wave of violence and looting since the end of apartheid, South African prosecutor’s spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said in a statement.
“We hope this conviction will act as a deterrent to others intending to commit similar offences,” she added.
Mr. Zuma was convicted by the Pietermaritzburg court (east) for incitement to violence.
In 2021, he had called, in a video widely shared by messaging service, for the looting and burning of a shopping mall, which indeed ended up in ashes during the riots.
Initially triggered by the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma, convicted of contempt of court, the violence spread to Johannesburg and the eastern province of Kwazulu-Natal, a sign of the tense social and economic climate.
The slow pace of bringing the perpetrators to justice has often been a source of frustration not only for the victims’ families but also for many South Africans, whose country has one of the highest crime rates in the world.
An investigation published last year highlighted the fact that the riots were largely organized via social networks and that those behind them remained “largely faceless”.
The trials of a further 65 suspects are due to start in January.
Source : Africanews