Swellendam. 151112. Police officers stands gaurd at a shop after vandals stole merchandise. Picture Leon Lestrade

Cape Town - Police arrested five people in Swellendam on Sunday for the alleged possession of stolen property after foreigner-owned shops were looted by protesters at the weekend.

The protesters turned on refugees as they took to the streets declaring war on their DA-led municipal council.

Police spokesman Lieutenant- Colonel Andrè Traut said intelligence led police to the houses of five suspects which resulted in their arrest for the “possession of presumed stolen property” on Sunday.

“During our operation we confiscated music equipment comprising compact disc players, mixers and speaker systems, four deep freezes, a bar fridge, as well as groceries which we believe were stolen when business premises were looted during the recent public unrest in Swellendam,” Traut said. “The value of the items is conservatively estimated at R20 000.”

The suspects, all men aged between 24 and 28, will appear in court in Swellendam once they have been charged.

“We have reason to believe that these five men were not the only ones who stole from retailers during last week’s violence in the area, and we will continue with our investigations so that more criminals can be brought to book,” Traut said.

“Although we have understanding for the public’s right to voice their concerns, it should never be done on the account of other people.”

Chaos erupted in the town last week after the Western Cape High Court granted interim relief to the DA, effectively giving the party the green light to take back the municipality, which was snatched during a hostile take-over by the ANC and a rogue ACDP councillor last month.

The situation reached boiling point on Wednesday night after word spread that the DA-led municipality had suspended the municipal manager appointed by the ANC.

On Saturday, national Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi and Local Government MEC Anton Bredell met disgruntled Swellendam residents in a bid to end the ongoing protest.

The two agreed to work together on an action plan to see good governance returned to the local municipality, and to get back to the community by the end of the week.

About 1 000 people attended the four-hour meeting on Saturday. Both Baloyi and Bredell fielded a host of questions and complaints about corruption, maladministration and lack of service delivery.

On Sunday, Bredell met his officials to work through the complaints.

“Most people are saying there is corruption,” Bredell told the Cape Argus. “We will now work through these queries and go back to the people in five days.”

Bredell said that the DA and ACDP were still in control of the Swellendam municipality.

The town’s mayor, Nic Myburgh, condemned last week’s violent clashes which led to several businesses being forced to shut their doors to avoid damage.

He laid the blame for the riots at the feet of the ANC, saying the municipality had always provided equal services to all residents.

[email protected]

Cape Argus