Residents looted a Spar supermarket, along with some foreign-owned shops in Samora Machel. Photo: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman during violent unrest and looting in Samora Machel informal settlement yesterday.

Twenty-one residents were arrested after a Spar supermarket was looted along with other nearby businesses.

Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said law enforcement remained on high alert and was monitoring the situation to prevent any flare-ups.

“Police members were deployed in Samora Machel to maintain law and order and to quell the violence which erupted when protesters took to the streets and looted shops during the early hours of (yesterday). 

"One grocery chain store has been looted in the area as well as several smaller shops.

“Our members reacted swiftly to the situation and arrested 21 people for looting. One fatality has been reported and the circumstances surrounding the female victim's death is being investigated as well as the public violence.”

Traut said once charged, the suspects would make their court appearance in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court.

According to residents, violence broke out in Samora Machel on Saturday night during a police raid on illegal shebeens, which incensed some of the residents.

Community leader Xolani Joja said the protest was not related to service delivery and, as a leader, was disappointed by the actions of community members.

“We do not know who this group was but when they started looting the Spar, others joined in and then they started moving to other stores and even ATMs.

“Now after everything that’s happened, people will start to realise that these businesses employed people in our community and how long until they come back.”

He added that residents would now have to travel further away to draw money or to buy basic groceries because of these senseless acts.

Joja said calm had been restored and leaders would engage with their community and chart a way forward.

Store owner Tapiwa Mwoyounotsua said: “This is not the first incident of foreigners’ shops being targeted in Samora Machel. 

"We were told that they are coming again tonight (Sunday) to finish what they started and now I want to move from here and it’s going to cost me a lot.”

Resident Avumile Luhoho said he and others were helping store owners pack up their belongings following rumours that the looters would return.

Luhoho said that as a community it would be hard to stop people from looting - only police would be able to do so.

Cape Times