Police battling looters in the Durban CBD. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)
Police battling looters in the Durban CBD. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

How a Durban community ’rescued’ under-siege cops battling looters

By Lee Rondganger Time of article published Jul 19, 2021

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POLICE were severely outnumbered when a riotous mob of looters descended on the Spar supermarket in Mayville.

Despite the fact that the Spar is next door to Mayville police station, Captain Sithole, the station’s head of the Visible Policing, had only four officers defending it.

Recounting the details of last Monday’s events at a CPF meeting in Overport at the weekend, Sithole said he called his colleagues for back-up but there was none as police were overwhelmed.

“People were looting, were invading the shops… they told me that don’t have back-up, I must use what I have,” he said.

Sithole said that he turned to the CPFs in the area. They swung into action and came to the rescue.

“We were under attack. They wanted to loot the Spar and they were acting in accordance (with) those voice notes that were inciting them to first loot and then burn the place down. They were doing just that, they were going to business premises and burning them afterwards.

“So, just imagine if they came there at Spar, they were going to loot the Spar, and the second thing was that the police station was going to be on fire. So, we said no, we are not backing off from here.”

Sithole said he called Imtiaz Syed, the chairperson of the Ethekwini CPF cluster.

Syed, along with other security companies, mobilised armed civilians to help the police officers under siege.

Those who were at the scene that day said more than 60 civilians pitched up to help the officers.

They were able to drive off the marauding mob, protect the Spar, the petrol station opposite it and the police station.

Sithole said that he was moved by the community spirit he saw that day and the days that followed as communities came together to defend their families and properties.

“Seeing you guys leaving your homes, your comfort and then spending the whole night, on the roads barricading and doing access control… helped a lot. If it was not because of that maybe this garage (where the CPF meeting took place) would not be here. Some places are completely looted. If you go south (of Durban) in some areas there are no shops. Clairwood, is finished. Montclair is finished. So, because of your togetherness and because of your commitment you have shops here and the place is safe,” he said.

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