African National Congress national spokesperson Pule Mabe. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The African National Congress (ANC) on Friday condemned the attacks on law enforcement officers by foreign nationals in the CBD. 

Johannesburg’s inner city was plunged into chaos on Thursday morning, when law enforcement agencies attempted to confiscate counterfeit goods from informal traders.

A joint operation between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) was met with strong resistance from vendors fighting back against the raids.

"We call on the full might of the State to come down hard on these criminals who disrespect the laws of our land," ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said. 

"The attack on our law-enforcement officers is an attack on our State and sovereignty, and must never go unpunished. Not only does this undermine the rule of law, it also poses a serious threat to the security of our State." 

Mabe said the ANC-led government has domesticated the SADC protocol on the movement of people and goods. 

"Our policy on welcoming foreign nationals who face persecutions in their own countries supports an integration of vulnerable people into our communities." 

"What we will not, and do not, accept is the blatant disrespect for the laws of our country by any person," said Mabe. 

"The actions of stone throwing and attacks aimed at members of the South African Police Service by informal traders in the CBD is an assault on the citizens of South Africa living in the city."

He said foreigners were welcome, but no one would be allowed to destroy the city's scarce resources. Everyone must obey the law - citizens, permanent residents and people with temporary visa status. 

"Undocumented visitors must respect our sovereignty and respect our laws. No one is above the law and no one must abuse the country's hospitality. 

 "The law-enforcement agencies must act swiftly and uncompromisingly to enforce the laws of our land, including municipal by-laws," said Mabe. 

"Those who trade in counterfeit goods, obstruct justice and hijack buildings must face the wrath of our criminal justice system. Law-enforcement agencies must show no mercy to these criminals." 

Mabe said they were calling on the State to respond firmly to Thursday's events. 

"Our police officers must never be obstructed from fulfilling their duties of enforcing law and order courageously and without fear. Those identified as perpetrators of these acts must face the wrath and full might of the law," concluded Mabe. 

African News Agency/ANA