As of 1pm on Sunday, a total of 62 suspects have been arrested in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal following protests against former President Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment.
In a statement, the South African Police Service (Saps) said police officers in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are working closely with metro police. Officers have been deployed and remain on high alert in response to incidents of violent protests that have impacted the two provinces over the weekend.
Gauteng Shutdown protests
In Gauteng alone, Saps said a total number of 25 people were arrested after police responded to “sporadic incidents of looting of businesses and barricading of roads in Jeppe and Alexandra” on Saturday night.
The police had dispersed a group of about 300 people who had barricaded the M2 freeway. It is alleged the same group then headed to Jeppestown, where they looted a number of businesses, resulting in seven people being arrested.
“Seven suspects were arrested, four of whom were found inside one of the stores, while three were arrested for public violence and for being in possession of suspected stolen property,” the police said.
In Alexandra, the police arrested 18 suspects – 16 of them arrested for public violence. The other two suspects were arrested for possession of suspected stolen property and malicious damage to property.
The incidents also saw a police officer being fatally shot. The officer was rushed to hospital for urgent medical attention, while two other police officers sustained minor injuries.
“This came as police responded to information of a group of people from Alexandra who targeted and forced entry into businesses, and started looting.
“This group of about 800 people is reported to have attacked police resulting in the shooting of police officers who have now received medical attention, with only one in hospital in a stable condition. Police also dispersed a group in Bramley, near Alexandra.”
Other areas affected by the ongoing ‘Gauteng Shutdown’ protests include Malvern, Denver, Wynberg, and the Johannesburg CBD.
KZN protests and arrests
Meanwhile in KZN, where incidents of violent protests started on Friday, the number of arrests has increased to 37 so far.
“Police working closely with Metro Police have overnight, been able to disperse crowds and foil attempts to barricade roads. No further looting has been reported.”
N3 cleaned up after protest
Clean-up crews and law enforcement spent most of Saturday removing debris from the road, where an estimated 20 trucks were set on fire on Friday evening.
N3TC spokesperson Anita Heyl said authorities discovered the extent of the damage in the morning.
“All this was done under cover of darkness. I am waiting for a full report, but more than 20 trucks were torched, some are still burning, and it is still too hot to get close.
“The burned trucks include one tanker, which was fortunately not carrying fuel … it was carrying some form of chemical. Fortunately, no one was injured,” she added on Saturday afternoon.
The police have also issued a warning against the circulation of inflammatory messages, inciting violence and lawlessness.
“The possibility of criminal charges being instituted against such persons cannot be ruled out, particularly in the event of injury or death that may come as a result of any operational response by the security forces to these incidents of violence and opportunistic criminality.”