Cape Town - Eleven suspects have been arrested in connection with several burglaries, the looting of grocery stores and public violence on the Cape Flats.
They are due to appear in court once charged.
According to police spokesperson Novela Potelwa, of the 11 suspects, seven were arrested on Tuesday and the other four were arrested on Wednesday.
This comes after a group of suspects were captured on camera while storming a supermarket in Gatesville at about 2.40pm on Tuesday. They threatened the cashiers and made off with cash and groceries. Videos of the looting incidents have been making the rounds on social media.
After the videos went viral, Potelwa said the police had reinforced deployments at several townships on the Cape Flats. She said Athlone police responded promptly at the Gatesville incident, where four suspects aged between 21 and 24 were arrested and some stolen items recovered.
Potelwa said that elsewhere, in Manenberg, large crowds took to the streets and broke into two wholesalers in the township and helped themselves to grocery items.
She said operations by police to track the suspects and retrieve stolen items were currently under way.
“Public Order police in Mitchells Plain have been dealing with sporadic protests in Tafelsig that started mid-morning on Tuesday.”
She said the protest was about food parcels distributed to some communities within the broader Mitchells Plain townships. Protesters burned tyres and barricaded roads.
Potelwa alleged that police were pelted with stones, and said three suspects aged 16, 18 and 20 were arrested for public violence, and said another one was then arrested on Wednesday. “All arrested suspects are expected to appear in court soon.”
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, condemned the looting of food stores.
“At present, we find ourselves facing a humanitarian crisis because of the lockdown and the economic challenges that follow are only going to exacerbate these challenges further,” Fritz said.
He said they understood that many people were struggling to put food on the table and the Western Cape government had taken a number of steps to assist as much as they can.
“However, I must be clear, looting will not be tolerated. We urge all our residents to abide by the law.”
Potelwa also cautioned communities against criminal conduct. “The police will not hesitate to take decisive action against those breaking the law. Forces will remain at identified locations until calm is restored.”