Death toll and arrests rise in Soweto after looting of foreign-owned shops

Death toll and arrests rise in Soweto after looting of foreign-owned shops.
Death toll and arrests rise in Soweto after looting of foreign-owned shops.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The death toll following looting of foreign-owned shops in Soweto has risen to three‚ said Gauteng police.

“The community took to the streets in protest‚ which turned violent and led to the looting of foreign nationals’ shops. During the violent attacks and the looting three people were killed in White City. There is also another person in hospital being treated for a gunshot wound‚” Colonel Brenda Muridili said in a statement on Wednesday.

At least 27 people have been arrested.

“Two unlicensed firearms were also seized and more arrests are expected‚” said Muridili.

Lieutenant–Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed that two people were arrested for the murders.

“The pair is also charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition," said Dlamini

The attacks on foreign-owned shops came after allegations that some were selling expired and counterfeit goods.

On Tuesday‚ the health ministry announced that it was looking into the allegations after videos and pictures of allegedly counterfeit products started circulating on social media.

As the looting spread across Soweto‚ Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and MMC for Public Safety in the City of Johannesburg Michael Sun headed to the area.

“Several gun shots went off whilst I’m standing at scene where violence erupted at White City‚ Soweto‚” Sun tweeted.

“Foreigner owned shops completely looted in the area. JMPD and SAPS to intensify efforts to contain the situation‚” he added.

Sun called on shop owners to ensure they had proper stock on their shelves.

“I also urge all shop owners and retailers to immediately remove from their shelves any counterfeit and expired foodstuff or goods. JMPD will continue conducting an operation to rid our community of such ill business practices‚” he said in a statement.

Reports indicate that the attacks continued into the evening on Wednesday. 

Dlamini said that they had deployed police in some area around Soweto.

“The situation is clam for now. We have not received reports of any looting taking place anywhere else and we have deployed police to areas considered hotspots to monitor the situation,” he said.

- Additional reporting by Tankiso Makhetha.

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