DURBAN - THE police have said that 62 suspects have been arrested in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in connection with violent protests that have erupted in the two provinces.
According to a statement issued on Sunday by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS), the police in Gauteng and KZN, with their respective local metro police departments, have heightened visibility and remain on high alert.
They said this was in response to incidents of opportunistic criminality and violent protests in the two provinces.
Police spokesperson Major-General Mathapelo Peters said in KZN, where incidents of violent protests started on Friday, the number of arrests has increased to 37.
Peters said police, working closely with the metro police, have overnight, been able to disperse crowds and foil attempts to barricade roads.
She said in Gauteng, 25 suspects were arrested after law enforcement responded to sporadic incidents of looting of businesses and barricading of roads in Jeppe and Alexandra on Saturday night.
“In the Jeppe policing precinct, police dispersed a group of about 300 people who had barricaded the M2 freeway.
“It is alleged that one group then headed to Jeppestown where they looted a number of businesses,” she said.
She said seven suspects were arrested, four of whom were found inside one of the stores, while three were arrested for public violence and for being in possession of suspected stolen property.
Peters said in Alexandra police arrested 18 suspects, with 16 of them for public violence which was also linked to the shooting of a police officer who was rushed to hospital for urgent medical attention.
She said two other police officers sustained minor injuries.
“The other two suspects were arrested for possession of suspected stolen property and malicious damage to property.
“This came as police responded to information of a group of people from Alexandra who targeted and forced entry into businesses, and started looting.”
Peters said this group of about 800 people was reported to have attacked police resulting in the shooting of police officers who have now received medical attention, with only one in hospital in a stable condition.
“In the meantime, an investigation is under way to determine the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of a 40-year old man who was certified dead at a local clinic,” continue Peters
Police also issued a warning to those circulating inflammatory messages, inciting violence and lawlessness that they should refrain from doing so or face the possibility of being criminally charged.