News | South Africa | Local News
Overnight looting and violent protests which ran into yesterday left residents and shop owners in fear for their lives.
What began as a KwaZulu-Natal shutdown in Durban saw violent protests during the weekend in support of former president Jacob Zuma move to hostels in Gauteng around Jeppestown, Hillbrow and Alexandra.
Much of the city centre was on high alert and riot police spent the day in running battles with protestors calling for the former president’s release from jail.
WATCH: JHB burning amid ‘Gauteng Shutdown’ protests
A mob several hundred strong armed with sticks and rocks made its way through town. During the course of the day, splinter groups also emerged.
The looters appeared to be targeting liquor stores in particular, but police also seized groceries and even a chest freezer while trying to quell the violence.
At least one man was killed during the unrest in Jeppe, but it was not clear if his death was linked to the unrest.
Brigadier Jay Naicker said police officers were deployed across provinces on all major routes while Colonel Brenda Mudirili reported at least 62 suspects had been arrested.
One police member was in hospital in a stable condition after police were attacked in Alexandra by a large group.
A resident from Alexandra who spoke to The Citizen said she was kept up until the early hours of yesterday morning by the sound of gunshots and chanting from a hostel in third avenue.
“It sounded like there was a war happening when they marched from third avenue and later went to tenth avenue, where they burnt tyres and looted liquor and clothing stores,” she said.
The resident said there were no police in sight when stores were broken into and looted.
“I definitely think their protest was about Zuma’s imprisonment because I saw on someone’s Facebook page where there was a discussion about the march,” she said.
62 people arrested in Gauteng, KZN as protests intensify
A shop owner who spoke to The Citizen said he was devastated about the state in which criminals left his store.
“They broke into the store where they stripped the burglar bars, looted all the office furniture, stole the fridges in the store and vandalised the gaming machines they could not steal,” he said.
A truck driver from the All Truck Drivers’ foundation, Sifiso Nyathi, said the violent protests would eventually negatively affect the economy.
“This could have a devastating impact on the economy because logistics contribute quite a lot.
“Yes, people are angry at Zuma’s imprisonment, but it shouldn’t hamper the work that trucks do in the country,” he said.
Additional reporting by Bernadette Wicks