Cops search for loot from night of arson

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Soweto police managed to calm down protesting Kliptown residents.

But later, under cover of darkness, some residents went on a looting and burning spree in the area. They broke into three shops, helped themselves to television sets, music systems, blankets and duvets and then set the shops alight.

Other shop owners could not believe their eyes when they arrived for business yesterday morning near Walter Sisulu Freedom Square and saw the destroyed shops.

Shop owner Moosa Seedat said a group of protesters looted the shops and and burnt them.

Another shopkeeper and owner of one of the burnt buildings, Ismail Choonara, said: "These people were protesting over service delivery. This is unacceptable. I live with them and know their frustrations, but they did not have to do this to people who help. The government is not looking out for people. I wish that Jacob Zuma was president, then things would be better," he said.

Police spokesman Captain Philemon Khorombi said: "The police arrested four people on Monday night and seven more yesterday morning."

Khorombi said one was found in possession of drugs after a tip-off.

Shop owner Turhan Yusuf Adams, said: "We understand the pain the people feel, but this is unacceptable. There was no need to burn the shops."

Adams said it was sad because one of the burnt buildings had been there for 46 years.

Demonstrators from Chicken Farm informal settlement presented a memorandum demanding houses, water, electricity, good sanitation, free education and free basic services.

The protesters, who said they were tired of living in shacks, barricaded roads with rocks and burning tyres. The crowd turned violent and police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse them.

Meanwhile, the government has raised concerns about the violent protests that have taken place recently and urged people to be patient.

Spokesman Themba Maseko said: "Government is very concerned about the violent protests. It will be discussed in the next meeting of cabinet's lekgotla."

Maseko has urged residents to do everything possible to refrain from violence during protests.