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South Africa: Police arrest 87 ahead of anti-government protest

South African security forces have said that 87 people had been arrested in the last 12 hours across the country over public violence ahead of planned protests by the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.

The EFF has called for a national shutdown to protest crippling power cuts and demand the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The party is demanding that President Cyril Ramaphosa step down because he is allegedly not running the country properly.

“On the 20th of March, we have to shut down this country to show the whole world that we are concerned about the state of affairs. We can’t fold our arms,” Julius Malema, leader of the EFF, said in a video message on the weekend.

He said the shutdown could be the beginning of an unstoppable revolution. The party has requested non-essential workers to remain home or join the protest.

High alert 

The party’s main constituency are the poor and working class Black South Africans who feel left out of the country’s prosperity since the governing African National Congress (ANC) ended white minority rule in 1994.

Ramaphosa warned Thursday that the EFF’s planned protests were not a mere shutdown but an attempt to overthrow the government.

Of the eighty-seven arrested, 41 were in Gauteng, the province which includes the capital Pretoria and the main city Johannesburg, 29 in were in North West province, and 15 in Free State, National intelligence body NatJOINTS said in a statement, adding that there has been arrests in other provinces such as Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.

Parliament said in a statement on Sunday that the South African military would deploy 3,474 troops for a month until April 17 to prevent and combat crime in cooperation with the police.

“Law enforcement officers are on high alert and will continue to prevent and combat any acts of criminality,” NatJOINTS said. 

READ MORE: South Africa lawmakers pass motion to downgrade embassy in Israel

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