Downtown Johannesburg after a clash between law enforcement officers and street vendors. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - Government viewed the attack on police officers in the Johannesburg CBD by foreign shop owners this week as an attack on the State, a statement from the Justice, Crime Prevention and security (JCPS) cluster of ministers said on Friday.

Ministers in the cluster said the attacks, which saw shop owners stone police officers and vehicles during a raid to seize counterfeit goods being sold at outlets, would not go unpunished.

"An attack on the law enforcement agencies is an attack on the State, and government views this in the most serious light. Blatant disregard for our law threatens national security and the sovereignty of our nation," a statement from the ministers said.

"South Africa as a constitutional democracy governed by laws and as such we expect everyone working and living in the country to be doing so legally and in accordance to South Africa’s laws. No person, under any circumstances, has the right to attack officials discharging their duties."

The minister's said the crackdown on the illicit economy was needed as it "results in loss in sales and profits of genuine goods and brands, and could pose health risks to ordinary consumers".

The JCPS cluster would liaise with the international relations department to engage embassies to encourage their citizens to respect South Africa's laws.

African News Agency (ANA)