The South African Police Service (SAPS) has dismissed a claim that their officers fired live ammunition during a raid in the Johannesburg CBD which turned violent on Thursday.
The claim was made by an Ethiopian shopkeeper who was interviewed on eNCA on Friday following the violence that ensued in the CBD on Thursday.
The shopkeeper, Tadesse Yemane, produced a cartridge as evidence to back the claim that police had fired live ammunition.
Yemane also claimed that the police started firing shots without explaining why they were in the area.
Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele denied that the police had fired live ammunition during the raid and the subsequent violent protests that ensued.
Makhubele said any person in possession of a cartridge can claim that it was proof that police had fired live ammunition, maintaining that officers only fired rubber bullets.
The police spokesperson said if anyone was shot with a live round they should report this to the police and register a case.
He added that no one, however, has come forward with a complaint that they had been shot with live ammunition, and the police do not know of anyone who was hospitalised due to being shot with live rounds.
Makhubele said the claim is not true.
In a statement early on Friday, the police said they had been attacked by “a violent crowd of foreign nationals” while on a joint operation with brand owners “targeting counterfeit goods” in the CBD.
Makhubele told the Citizen that when police are carrying out their operations they do not tell people why they are there.
On Thursday, he said police resorted to firing rubber bullets when protesters threw petrol bombs at officers. This, he said on Friday, was proof that the protesters “were ready to fight the police”.
The police are not discouraged by the attack on Thursday and are not afraid, and so will return to the area to continue the operation, Makhubele said.
He reiterated that their tactical withdrawal on Thursday was to avoid bloodshed.
Makhubele said according to police records only three people were injured on Thursday. He said no arrests have been made but a case of public violence has been registered.
The situation is calm in the area – Jeppe Street and surrounds – and the police are monitoring the vicinity, Makhubele said.