14 youths held over looting and extortion

FOURTEEN youths were arrested for allegedly looting and trying to extort money from foreign businesspeople in Delmas, Mpumalanga, in exchange for protection.

FOURTEEN youths were arrested for allegedly looting and trying to extort money from foreign businesspeople in Delmas, Mpumalanga, in exchange for protection.

Groups of youths approached foreigners owning businesses in Botleng township on Sunday, promising them protection during xenophobic attacks if they paid a certain amount of money.

They told them that their businesses would be attacked on Monday if they did not give them the protection money they were demanding. Some were told that if they did not pay the money, they should leave the area to avoid being attacked.

Constable Ntombifuthi Mashiane said the police received a complaint from a businessman who was told that if he failed to pay, he should leave because he would be attacked on Monday.

Mashiane said the police acted swiftly and arrested five of the eight suspects who approached businesses in Extension 3. She said the other three were on the run and police were searching for them.

She said nine other youths were arrested after allegedly robbing and looting Sun Supermarket at the local shopping complex yesterday.

"Police were at the scene immediately after the attack on the supermarket and arrested the nine, while others escaped," she said.

She added that more arrests would be made soon.

According to Mashiane, most of the affected businesses belonged to Pakistanis.

She said those arrested would be charged with robbery.

Meanwhile, sources in the area said police had their hands full on Monday as they dispersed pockets of youths who blockaded roads with burning tyres in Extension 3 and Delpark.

Mashiane said police were on full alert and patrolling the township.

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