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WATCH | Blood, bricks and rubber bullets in Joburg - but why no arrests asks Mashaba?

A riot broke out in the Johannesburb CBD when police confiscated counterfeit goods from street vendors. Officers fired rubber bullets but protesters pelted officers with bricks and bottles.

More footage has emerged of the "street battle" that played out when police came under attack by angry hawkers and street vendors in Johannesburg.

The footage shows how officers took cover as bottles and bricks rained down on them.

One person, taking refuge in an armoured vehicle, was shown with a laceration on his head.

Police management said that officers made a tactical decision to fall back to avoid a potential "bloodbath' if they were forced to defend themselves using live ammunition.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said earlier on Friday that he was surprised there had not been a "single arrest"after the chaos.

"I am deeply hurt and devastated to wake up this morning to learn that not a single criminal is arrested after the blatant disregard of our country’s laws yesterday in the inner city," he said in a tweet.

"I would have expected the city to have been closed off and all criminals behind bars by now." 

"Why no arrest is beyond belief," he said in reaction to images of the injured man.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said officers "tactically withdrew" from the intelligence-driven operation targeting counterfeit goods in downtown Johannesburg on Thursday.

"Due to the volatility of the situation, police retreated to avoid a situation where they would be forced to use live ammunition," Peters said in a statement.

"Of priority at this point was ensuring that there was no bloodshed or death."

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela said such "lawlessness cannot be allowed to go unpunished".

It was still unclear when police would return to the area.

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