In the aftermath of the riots in South Africa after the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma on corruption charges, India has raised the issue of the safety and security of Indians and persons of Indian heritage in the nation.
The situation in South Africa is deteriorating by the day, with government authorities battling to maintain control over the violence. As a result of the continuous instability in South Africa, hundreds of businesses have been destroyed, and at least 72 people have been killed and according to the news agency AFP, more than 1,200 people have been arrested. Hundreds of shops and businesses were plundered, roads were blocked, and buildings and automobiles were damaged and burnt during the initially highly politicized protest.
Why was Mr. Zuma arrested?
Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court a few weeks ago. Zuma was found guilty of refusing to testify before a state-backed inquiry into charges of corruption during his presidency, which lasted from 2009 to 2018.
Indians have been targeted
According to one of South Africa’s Indian community leaders, “In all parts of Kwazulu Natal and Johannesburg, Indian people are being assaulted. South Africa has a population of 1.3 million Indian people, none of whom are in danger, but they are on the verge of becoming so. We’ve been begging with the South African administration to send the South African Military Forces to help. They don’t seem to be arriving. Our Indian brothers and sisters, working closely with South African police forces, are still unable to cope due to their exceeded disadvantage.”
“I am writing to you not knowing if I or my family will be alive tomorrow.”
With protests, arson, violence, and looting on the rise, the lives of Indians and Indian-origin South Africans are in jeopardy. In the midst of the commotion, we received a letter from a doctor pleading for help, expressing his concern for his life and the lives of his family.
Durban, Pietermaritzburg, and Johannesburg, all of which have a large population of Indian expats, are among the areas hit by the violence. Businesses owned by Indians and Indian-origin South Africans have also been targeted by looters, according to reports.
Despite fears of energy and food shortages, the South African government has planned to send roughly 25,000 troops to control the protests. According to AFP, the administration reported 208 acts of looting and vandalism.
The arrest of Jacob Zuma and the connection to the Indian community
Before, during, and after his presidency, Zuma faced several legal issues, including charges of rape, misappropriation of public funds, corruption, and fraud, to name a few. The Gupta family’s connection is the most important of all the corruption allegations put against him. Over a 2016 graft report, Interpol issued a red corner alert to the three brothers. Guests for the wedding of one of the Gupta family’s relatives were transported by chartered plane. In 2013, the plane landed at Waterkloof Air Base in Pretoria. The incident was unusual in that the airbase is only open to visiting heads of state and diplomatic representatives. The act sparked public criticism, and the issue was nicknamed ‘Guptagate’ by the South African media.