Johannesburg - Foreigners were frantically trying to find ways of protecting their shops in Evaton and Sebokeng on Thursday night as mobs of teenage looters began moving through the two Vaal townships.
The townships had by Thursday evening entered their second day of looting, with police attempting to chase down and disperse the crowds of looters.
Foreigners caught up in the violence said at least one man had been seriously injured.
At 6pm on Thursday night, the unrest hotted up, with police patrol cars speeding through the townships saving shopkeepers and trying to prevent break-ins.
Sultan Desta and three other Ethiopians were forced to hide inside their supermarket on Boundary Road in Evaton as a mob that he believed was hundreds-strong tried to break in.
The crowd had broken through the front gate of the TS Wholesalers supermarket when police arrived and dispersed them by firing shots in the air.
When a team from The Star arrived at the supermarket, Desta was trying to decide how to protect the shop from further attack.
“There is a lot of stuff in the shop, how can we take it all out?” he asked.
On the way to the scene, the team also witnessed an attack in which several men armed with rocks chased a man into a field in Evaton.
It was unclear if this was related to the unrest in area.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the looting was a spin-off of protest delivery riots that began on Monday.
“They started blocking roads, and when they saw that police could not enter those areas, they started looting.”
He said five shops had been looted by yesterday afternoon, four of them foreigner-owned.
Five people had been arrested for possession of stolen goods.
On Milner Street in Evaton, a crowd was seen gathering opposite a shop.
Looters tried to build barricades of rocks and fencing on Champ Road, but were chased away by police.
The officers responding were armed with pistols and instructed shops that were still open to close.
Through the evening, the crowds gathered and then dispersed as police arrived in vans.
Dlamini said the police stationed at Evaton and Sebokeng were dealing with the unrest and no specialised units had been deployed.
Close to Champ Road, a group of about a dozen Somalis were emptying out the Bilal Supermarket, under the protection of police.
The produce was placed into two bakkies and a refrigerated truck.
An hour earlier, a crowd had tried to break into the shop.
They stood and watched from close by.
Abdul Mohamud said three shops had been robbed and that a Somalian had been badly beaten up. He was taken to Sebokeng Hospital.
“Some of the people who came had guns,” he said.