Shops looted, buildings burned in 2 days of protest in Heidelberg

Chaos has erupted in Ratanda, Heidelberg, after protesters set buildings alight and looted shops, police and locals say.

The protests, which began on Monday and continued on Tuesday, appear to be over a lack of electricity in the area, police said.

"Yesterday [Monday], there was a protest because electricity had been cut off by the local municipality. It escalated to looting. Police are on scene attempting to bring calm," police spokesperson Captain Thivhulawi Tshilate said.

He said that a supermarket had also been set alight on Monday evening, but could not confirm the name of the establishment.

Thus far, 54 people had been arrested, including 12 minors who were released into their parents' custody.

Tshilate said those arrested faced a range of charges, from public violence to possession of stolen property.

He added that there had been several clashes between police and locals.

According to Heidelberg resident Odette Petzold, a local U-Save in Rensburg was also set alight.

"Yesterday, on Vaal Dam Road, cars were burning and shops were being looted."

Petzold said there were also claims that protesters were unhappy with foreign nationals.

"Locals have been claiming that Pakistani nationals poison their food and take their jobs," Petzold said.

Tshilate said that, while it was possible that foreign national could have been targeted, he could not immediately confirm.

Other stores, including department stores, were also closed.

Petzold described the protest as intense saying there had been clashes between police and the community.

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