South Africa

BATTLEFIELD GAUTENG

Looting continues across Gauteng, with scores arrested

Suspects are loaded into a police van after being arrested for looting in Troyville, Johannesburg on 2 September 2019. Photo: Twitter/EWN Updates/Thomas Holder

A total of 289 people have been arrested and five people have died after three days of violence across Gauteng. Even as those arrested began making their first appearance in court and police presence increased at hot spots, the looting continued for the fourth day.

On the evening of Tuesday 3 September, 100 people were arrested in Ekurhuleni for public violence and looting. These were the latest arrests related to the outbreak of xenophobic violence in Gauteng over the past three days, with a total of 289 people arrested from 1 to 3 September.

In a statement on Tuesday, the police said people had been arrested for “criminal acts including public violence, malicious damage to property and theft”.

The statement also said “the situation has been stabilised in parts of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg Central, Jeppe and Cleveland policing areas”.

Police waiting on the road outside a park where Police Minister Bheki Cele is addressing Jeppestown residents on 3 September 2019 following days of violence. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim

Five people have died in the violence. The names of the dead have not yet been released, as they were yet to be identified by family members, the police said. Of these, two people were shot in Hillbrow on 2 September, two people were shot in Coronationville, and a body was found with multiple injuries next to a hostel in Jeppestown on 3 September.

Johannesburg has been on lockdown for the past four days as arsonists and looters targeted migrant-rich areas such as Jeppestown and Mayfair. This expanded into other parts of the city including Cleveland, Fordsburg and Malvern. Other areas affected by xenophobic looting and violence are Alexandra, Tembisa, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

While the cause and motives of the violence continue to be unclear, Gauteng SAPS provincial spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said criminals “have taken advantage of the chaotic situation”.

In the meantime, police are identifying the leaders of these violent groups and will be arresting them once full evidence against them has been gathered.”

[Those arrested] are being held in different policing facilities,” Dlamini told Daily Maverick. They are expected to appear in court soon, but Dlamini was unable to provide details.

Daily Maverick tracked some of the appearances to the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court where at least 10 people appeared in several courtrooms on Wednesday. All were denied bail and were remanded in custody until 11 September.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the looting continued in Ekurhuleni – in Katlehong and Springs – with officers being deployed to deal with the spreading violence. Other incidents, said to have occurred overnight, were also reported in Johannesburg.

Many shops in the Johannesburg CBD and Jeppestown remained closed on Wednesday. The only notable activity in Jeppestown was business owners cleaning and welding shut their shops.

The Gauteng Department of Education said some schools, particularly in Katlehong, had been affected by the unrest. In addition, parents were panicking as a result of a false alarm that learners were being kidnapped from schools and that the Lungisani Primary School in Katlehong had been torched. DM

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