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First confirmed death in Gauteng looting and violence, as arrests rise to 100

Police minister Bheki Cele said that police must deal with the criminality.
Police minister Bheki Cele said that police must deal with the criminality.

More police officers will be sent to volatile parts of Gauteng as looting and violence spread on Monday.

The SAPS have confirmed that a man was shot and killed in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, as outbreaks of violence and looting continued to ravage Gauteng on Monday.

Initial reports indicated that the unidentified man was shot in the head as foreign-owned shops were looted on Monday morning.

Johannesburg metro police department spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the incident took place on the corner of Twist and Kapteijn streets. It was still unclear who fired the shot.

SAPS spokesman Col Lungelo Dlamini confirmed on Monday evening that the man had died.

Looters took to the streets of Jeppestown on September 1 2019. The protesters looted and caused damage worth millions of rand. Local business owners have been left trying to pick up the pieces.

"Police are investigating a case of murder following the fatal shooting of a member of the public. He was allegedly shot by a group of people who had gathered in Hillbrow. At this stage police are still interviewing several people to establish the motive for the shooting. No one has been arrested for the murder," he said in a statement.

The confirmation of the killing came as police minister Bheki Cele vowed to send more police to volatile areas in Gauteng.

After visiting Johannesburg - which has seen the most of the violence - Cele said on Monday afternoon that additional officers would be deployed to deal with the unrest.

“We need to stop any form of looting by bringing more police. Tomorrow [Tuesday], we will have meetings with the communities because, for us, what will help is to involve the community, the leadership at all levels.

“We believe that talking to the people, life will be better rather than sending only security to deal with the matter. We need to deal with it both politically, at government level, and speak with the people,” Cele said.

The minister said police must deal with criminality.

What started as a protest against drug dealers in Pretoria last week - which later turned out to be an attack on foreign nationals - has now spread to a number of areas in Johannesburg and across Gauteng.

Violence flared at the weekend in Jeppestown and surrounding areas in eastern Johannesburg. A mob looted and set alight several shops in the area. Dozens of cars were torched at dealerships. Nothing but burnt frames of cars, which were once worth millions, were left behind.

On Monday the streets were covered in debris, empty rubber bullet casings and burnt out tyres, while emotionally shattered shop owners tried to come to terms with their loss.

Police confirmed that 100 people had been arrested on charges ranging from public violence to malicious damage to property, and to theft. The arrests took place in Rosettenville (20 arrests), Malvern (35),  Jeppestown (26), Germiston (9) and Thembisa (10).

"Several operations are continuing in Thembisa and more people are expected to be arrested," said Dlamini.

Dlamini described those behind the looting as "criminal opportunists". He said Gauteng commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela had instructed all commanders to take strong action against the perpetrators, "as this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue".

He also blamed "irresponsible use and abuse of social media" for fuelling the violence and instability with the intention of "advancing criminal acts".

SABC journalists found themselves at the receiving end of the violence in Jeppestown on Monday afternoon when their car was attacked, and the rear window smashed.

Protesters were reportedly demanding that foreigners leave the area, because, they claimed, the foreigners were involved in drug dealing.

Meanwhile shopkeepers in Braamfontein, the Johannesburg CBD and Oriental Plaza in Fordsburg closed their shops as a precautionary measure.

The Pretoria CBD experienced further disruption on Monday as a result of a morning protest by taxi drivers. Streets there, had, however, been reopened by the afternoon.

Police said they were on high alert and monitoring Reiger Park and Tembisa in  Ekurhuleni following sporadic attacks on Monday morning when some shops were attacked.

The mob violence also led to the suspension of the Johannesburg Metrobus service, as well as the Johannesburg and Pretoria Gautrain bus services.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba condemned the violence. “I condemn the violent looting taking place in parts of Johannesburg and especially the inner city. Such lawlessness and disregard for human life cannot and will not be tolerated,” Mashaba said.

He said it appeared that foreign nationals were the target of the violence. However, Mashaba said he was awaiting a report from the city’s department of public safety.

“I am assured the JMPD [metro police] is doing everything possible to help the SAPS in bringing an end to this criminality. I call upon South Africa’s law enforcement agencies, and especially the SAPS, to deal with these criminals with urgency and to restore law and order on our streets. This latest outbreak of criminality once again highlights the desperate need for intelligence-led policing in our country,” Mashaba said.

- Additional reporting by Nomahlubi Jordaan