South Africa

BATTLEFIELD JOZI

City in lockdown as looters target migrant-rich areas across Johannesburg and East Rand

City in lockdown as looters target migrant-rich areas across Johannesburg and East Rand
A police officer shoots at looters in Turffontein during violence directed at foreign nationals broke out in Johannesburg. Photo Thulani Mbele. 02/09/2019

There were 81 arrests in Johannesburg on Monday 2 September as reports were received of looting in eight parts of the city from east to west and also in Tembisa on the West Rand. The police minister blamed hostel residents from Denver and Cleveland.

Johannesburg was in lockdown and chaos on Monday 2 September as looting and arson expanded from the east of the city to the edge of the west as looters targeted areas rich in migrants.

Police Minister Bheki Cele attributed the attacks to “nothing but criminality” and said most of the looters came from the Denver and Cleveland hostels which are near the east of Johannesburg. But, this report by Daily Maverick shows that foreigners were targeted.

The violence began on Sunday night when arsonists and looters targeted Jeppestown on the eastern flanks of Johannesburg. Many migrants from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have set up businesses in the area, including car repair workshops, tailors and other stores.

Early on Monday, the looting had spread to Malvern where a 28-year-old car sales shop belonging to a South African family was gutted. A family member told Eyewitness News that her father, the owner, was stuck in the car showroom where the family lost millions of rand as their stock burned. Looters tried to steal the cars and then burned them when they couldn’t.

A witness described the scenes as a “war zone”. By midday, looting had erupted in Turffontein in the south of the city, an area with a large Nigerian community. From there, it spread south, where the Bree Street taxi rank became a no-go zone for police and first responders.

In Nigeria, the government announced “strong” measures in retaliation against South Africa’s failure to keep Nigerian-owned businesses safe, News24 reported.

By early afternoon, looters had attempted to target a Somali-owned shopping centre and a Shoprite store in Mayfair, but were rebuffed by traders. Mayfair is the hub of the Somali community into the rest of South Africa and its leaders call this area in Johannesburg home.

They have their own security who helped repel the alleged would-be looters, who arrived by taxi. The taxis were stoned and the occupants sped off after an attempted attack. The area is home to more than 20 migrant groups from Somalia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malawi, Ethiopian and other countries, and is regarded as one of the most cosmopolitan in the country.

Streets were strewn with glass and bricks and all local businesses, including banks, fast food stores, and butchers shut up shop as news spread from the rest of the city that looters were advancing.

Tembisa in the East Rand also experienced looting and after dusk fell Hillbrow was a no-go zone as looting and violence intensified. Hillbrow is another hub of many different migrant communities.

Police  Minister Bheki Cele called the looting a national emergency. By the end of the day, 81 looters had been arrested in Jeppestown, Malvern and the CBD, said metropolitan police department spokesperson Wayne Minnaar.

Right now, the city is calm and hundreds of additional police have been deployed into the hot spots,” he told Daily Maverick. DM

Gallery

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

Daily Maverick the Gathering 2024 event

Join me at The Gathering 2024.

Join me at Daily Maverick’s annual flagship event The Gathering, on Thurs 14 March 2024 at CTICC Cape Town, where we bring together South Africa’s most influential leaders and change agents to address the state of South African politics, the economy, and society.

Join in person or catch the full event online.

Make your taxes work for you

Donate to Daily Maverick’s non-profit arm, the Scorpio Investigative Unit, by 29 February 2024 and you’ll qualify for a tax break.

We issue Section 18A tax certificates for all donations made to Daily Maverick. These can be presented to SARS for tax relief.

Make your donation today

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick The Gathering 2024 banner

Daily Maverick has secured an esteemed speaker line-up...

to help make sense of Elections 2024.

Trevor Manuel, Prof Thuli Madonsela and Minister Ronald Lamola are among the latest panellists confirmed for Daily Maverick The Gathering Twenty Twenty-Four.

Join us, on Thurs 14 March 2024 at CTICC Cape Town or online wherever you are, for an event that will put the election in perspective.

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider