DURBAN - National police commissioner general Khehla Sitole has called for calm following the death of two protestors in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria.
In a media statement issued late on Thursday night, Sitole said he condemned the killings as well as attacks on police officers - and the burning of private property - that had taken place earlier in the day during violent service delivery protests.
The area was now calm, said Sitole.
"It is alleged that today's protests in Soshanguve Extension 6 resulted in the blockading of a road at the taxi exchange spot in Nkandla informal settlement near M20 Road.
"It is reported that at about 6am this morning the protesters stopped and ultimately burnt a truck with a cargo of cutlery worth an estimated R700 000. The area is within the policing precinct of Akasia Police Station.
"When the police responded to the scene, they were attacked and one of the members sustained gunshot wounds to both his legs. The member was taken to hospital and is reported to be in a stable condition," said the statement.
It went on to say that the protesters proceeded to loot a liquor store on Doreng Street, at which time public order police arrived at the scene and arrested two protesters for public violence.
"However, later in the day the protesters continued with their intentions to loot and it is alleged that during the commotion at one of the shops, the owner fatally shot a 35-year old man and fled the scene. When police responded to this scene their vehicle was attacked and damaged.
"The protesters proceeded to a house in Extension 5 where they broke in and stole musical equipment and set the house alight. The police responded and discovered the body of a 30-year-old man across the street from the burnt house," read the statement.
A multidisciplinary task team comprising crime intelligence and "seasoned detectives" had been mobilised to investigate the attack on police, the death of the two protesters and the burning of the truck and private home, said the statement.
"We have to bring those responsible to book as such behaviour is criminal and unacceptable,” said Sitole.
He appealed to community leaders to resolve their grievances in an amicable manner with the relevant stakeholders. “I call on the community of Soshanguve to be calm as public violence is no solution to any problem but rather a crime which is punishable by law.”
The situation in Soshanguve was reported to be stable and calm and public order police would monitor the situation to bring about normalisation, according to the statement.
"The police’s crime scene management which includes Local Criminal Record Centre, Crime Scene Investigators as well as Senior Tshwane Region Management visited the scene to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the quest to trace and apprehend all perpetrators that masqueraded as protesters while advancing their criminal and violent activities that took the lives of two protesters," said the statement.
The arrested protesters would be appearing in court soon on charges of public violence.
African News Agency (ANA)