Durban - ONE person has been arrested after two shops owned by foreign nationals were looted and set alight in the Durban CBD on Monday.
According to police, a group of about 30 people assembled at King Dinuzulu Park with the aim of marching to the Durban City Hall to hand over a memorandum yesterday.
Police provincial spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said police informed the group they would not be allowed to march. He said while this was happening, another group converged in the city and started looting shops before two were set alight. Police officers from Durban central and metro police responded to the incident.
“They pursued the group and one suspect was arrested. He attempted to stab police officers during the arrest, but was quickly subdued without any injury to the arresting officers,” said Naicker, adding that some stolen items were recovered.
Naicker said the operation was still ongoing to identify and arrest the other perpetrators.
“A case of public violence has been opened for further investigation. The arrested suspect will also be charged with attempted murder,” said Naicker.
EThekwini Fire Divisional Commander Melvin Ramlall said they managed to extinguish the fire.
“We responded to the first fire and while we were busy dealing with that, we received a call about another incident in the CBD. The shops that were burnt were owned by foreign nationals,” he said.
Members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) confirmed that they had marched from King Dinuzulu Park to the city hall to hand over their memorandum.
Zibuse Cele, MKMVA member and march co-ordinator, said the march was aimed at calling for a speedy resolution of issues related to the MK veterans.
“Our march was not related to the foreign nationals. We are dealing with that in other ways, but today was not about them.
“We just have unresolved issues with the ANC leadership on how they treat us as the MKMVA.
“We want to raise those issues because soldiers are hungry, and they die poor, just because they are not given work and are not provided with enough financial assistance.”
Cele stressed that their members were not part of the group that looted and torched shops.
“From King Dinuzulu, we went straight to city hall and handed over our memorandum.
“We are not involved in any attack of foreigners and torching of their shops,” he said.
According to Durban metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad, the MKMVA march was illegal.
He said police had not established a link between the march and the destruction that took place in the city centre.
The incidents come after the MK vets took to the streets in November last year to protest over undocumented foreign nationals operating businesses in the Durban CBD. Some shops were forced to close and others were looted in those incidents.
Acting KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Kwazi Mshengu, said that the police were investigating if there was a correlation between the mob wanting to cause anarchy in the Durban CBD, and the recent threats by truck drivers who were also threatening to embark on an illegal protest.
Mshengu further condemned the targeting of shops owned by foreign nationals, warning that such incidents, tantamount to xenophobic attacks, had no place in society.
“Government has created platforms of engagement with all concerned groupings in our society and those must be utilised to find amicable and meaningful solutions to resolve challenges affecting our various sectors,” he said.