Police arrest 23 for Sasolburg looting

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Mayhem on the streets of Zamdela in Sasolburg as residents protest over proposed demacations. File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Sasolburg - Twenty-three people have been arrested for being in possession of goods looted during a protest in Zamdela, Sasolburg, Free State police said on Wednesday.

“Police conducted raids at houses following information that some stuff looted from the shops was in that area,” Colonel Motantsi Makhele said.

“We confiscated stuff, mostly building material.”

The raid was conducted around 2am by various police units, including the National Intervention Unit.

The 23 would be charged with possession of stolen property.

Residents started protesting on Sunday in opposition to the proposed merger, in 2016, of the Matsimaholo municipality in Sasolburg with the Ngwathe municipality, under which Parys falls.

A total of 259 people have been arrested on various charges since the start of the protest.

Two people were killed on Tuesday and nine were injured. Makhele said one of the men killed was shot, allegedly by police, when a group tried to attack the local police station.

“In an attempt to protect the property and the lives of police members, shots were fired at an angry mob that was attacking the police station.”

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate would investigate the shooting. The second man was shot and killed, allegedly by a business owner, when protesters tried to break into his shop.

On Tuesday, provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Khela Sithole said the man was shot by a motorist. However, Makhele said this was according to a initial report. It was later determined that he was a shop owner.

Makhele said the situation in Zamdela was under control on Wednesday afternoon, with no reports of violence. Police were still patrolling the area.

Co-operative Governance and Public Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi announced on Tuesday that the merger would not immediately go ahead.

Makhele said Heilbron and Deneysville, also near Sasolburg, were also affected by protests.

Twenty-five people had been arrested in Heilbron after a group of about 200 people threw stones at police vehicles and damaged 10 shops, he said. - Sapa


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