91 arrested in South Africa over attacks, looting

Africa
By PETER DUBE

Johannesburg. At least 91 people were arrested on Monday in the cities of Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa following incidents of looting and torching of buildings and vehicles.

The attacks began in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The arrests come after three people in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, were burnt to death on Sunday in a fresh wave of violence, linked to tensions between local and foreign truck drivers.

At least 50 cars were either damaged or set alight, while several foreign and local-owned shops were looted or damaged.

Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo confirmed the attacks.

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“We were called to a building in Jeppestown around 5pm. When we got there, we found that three people had died and people began to loot shops. We immediately arrested four people with stolen property,” he said.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said 71 people had been arrested in the province on Monday for looting, being in possession of stolen property and public violence.

In Durban, police confirmed they had arrested 20 people following violent truck protests over the weekend.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said it was a busy weekend as they dealt with a number of trucking industry-related strikes in various parts of the province.

South Africa’s ministers of employment and labour, police, transport and home affairs convened an urgent meeting on Sunday evening to discuss the continued violence in the trucking industry.

In a joint statement, the ministries said attacks against drivers and their vehicles were becoming more violent.

In June, at least 20 trucks per week were torched in the span of three weeks.

High-level meetings between truck owners, drivers and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, and Police Minister Bheki Cele were held in Durban at the beginning of June.

Police arrested 91 people following the previous attacks.

CONCERN OVER ATTACKS

Some foreign nationals living in various parts of South Africa stayed away from work on Monday due to the attacks that were seen to be xenophobic.

“I was afraid to go to work today because of the attacks. Luckily, my boss is from Zambia so he was in agreement when I requested to work from home,” said Thando Nxumalo, a Zimbabwean national living in Johannesburg.

Meanwhile, Nigerian authorities also raised concern over attacks on their citizens and their businesses in South Africa, saying “enough is enough”.

The Federal Government on Monday said that some of the businesses attacked in South Africa on Sunday belonged to Nigerians.

Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama described the attacks as “sickening and depressing” and said the government would take decisive measures in dealing with the matter.

This comes as President Muhammadu Buhari prepares to visit South Africa in October to discuss xenophobic attacks.

The Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa (NICASA) has also called on South African authorities to arrest and prosecute those involved in the burning and looting of businesses.

President of NICASA Ben Okoli, on a phone call from Pretoria, made this plea in an Abuja talk show.

Mr Okoli said prosecution of the looters would deter others from such crime. 

Additional reporting by Mohammed Momoh in Abuja, Nigeria.

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