SAHRC condemns Soweto violence, concerned about apparent sale of expired goods

While the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is concerned about claims of the sale of expired goods, it says there is no justification for people taking the law into their own hands.

The commission was referring to violence that broke out during protests in White City, Soweto on Wednesday afternoon. Rubber bullets and teargas were fired to disperse crowds in different shops in the suburb.

Johannesburg's Public Safety MMC (Member of the Mayoral Committee) Michael Sun told News24 at the time that the violence broke out 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.

Spokesperson Gail Smith said in a statement on Thursday that the commission was particularly concerned about the fact that the unrest, which led to deaths, stemmed from looting and violence directed at businesses owned by non-nationals.

Smith added that the commission condemned the violence.

"The commission would like to reiterate that every human being inside of the Republic [of SA] – irrespective of ethnic origin or country of birth - has the protection of the rights set out in the Bill of Rights," Smith added.

Police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini told News24 on Thursday that the death toll at White City remained three.

READ: ANC, DA call for calm after violence erupts in Soweto, leaving 2 dead

He added that police continued to monitor the area to ensure that no more looting occurred.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry said an inter-departmental meeting on illicit fake food products in South Africa, which was held in Pretoria on Thursday, has resolved to ensure that there is visible enforcement of all related regulations.

"All key regulatory bodies will be involved in joint operations. The focus will be on law enforcement and education," department spokesperson Sidwell Medupe said in a statement.

The department also condemned the looting.

Medupe said it was also agreed at the meeting that there should be a Stakeholder Engagement Forum with different business formations in the next week.

"The meeting raised concern around the spreading of fake news on illicit fake food products. This fake news has the potential to create public panic and fuel emotions," Medupi said. 

Medupi added that the public was encouraged to come forward with evidence to assist with enforcement and that their identities would be protected.