UPDATE: 27 arrested after violence breaks out in Soweto as looters run amok, leaving 3 people dead
Acting National Commissioner Lieutenant General Lebeoana Tsumane has commended police for their “swift response” and for arresting 27 people in Soweto for the recent violence and looting, which resulted in the death of three people.
“By increasing deployments in the affected areas, 27 suspects were arrested for various crimes including murder, attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and public violence,” he said, adding that more arrests are imminent.
Earlier the City of Johannesburg's Public Safety MMC Michael Sun has confirmed that a total of 15 people have been arrested after violence erupted in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Sun, who went to the Moroka police station to confirm details about killings and the arrests, said one person died after he was shot in the head and another had been stabbed to death.
Sun said three people have been arrested for murder and the possession of unlicensed firearms.
He said 12 others were arrested for public disorder.
Violence broke out during protests in the Johannesburg suburb on Wednesday afternoon.
Sun said it was believed that the violence was sparked by "accusations that shop owners within the community had allegedly been selling counterfeit and expired goods to members of the community".
This came a day after the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) conducted an operation dealing with shop owners who sold expired food to the public in another part of the city, he said.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the looting of foreign-owned spaza shops had spread to more parts of Soweto.
Rubber bullets and teargas were fired to disperse the crowd in the afternoon.
"We are trying to diffuse the situation, but it looks like it is busy spreading to other parts [of the area]," Dlamini said at the time.
This, after community members cleared out almost three more spaza shops outside Margaret Gwele Primary School in Dobsonville, Soweto.
Children stood on pavements and looked on as community members used metal pipes and hammers to break down the doors of the shop.
They took maize meal, sugar, cooldrinks, bread and household products. Empty packets, boxes and plastic bottles lined the streets.
At one stage, a car stopped at one of the shops and goods were loaded into the boot.
According to a resident, who asked to remain anonymous, only one police vehicle was seen in the area, though it left later.
"They broke into all the Indian shops in the area. We tried to phone the police several times, but they didn't come," the woman said.
Sun urged residents not to take the law into their own hands not to resort to acts of violence and looting.
"We will continue to monitor the situation as night falls. We suspect there will be more looting and violence. Both JMPD and police will be out on full force and we do urge community members to stay indoors."
Speaking to retailers, he said: "I also urge all shop owners and retailers to immediately remove from their shelves any counterfeit and expired foodstuff or goods. JMPD will continue conducting an operation to rid our community of such ill business practices."
*This article has been updated.
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