Zuma Protests Spread to Joburg

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A POLICE officer was taken to hospital in the early hours of Sunday with gunshot wounds after a violent mob turned on police officers who responded to looting in Alexandra, Johannesburg.

Spokesperson for the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS) Col Brenda Muridili, said it was reported that an 800-strong group of rioters attacked the police.

One officer is in hospital in a stable condition while two others were treated for minor injuries.

“The other two suspects were arrested for possession of suspected stolen property and malicious damage to property,” she said.

Rioting broke out in Gauteng on Sunday after days of protests in KwaZulu-Natal linked to the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.

In Jeppestown, Johannesburg, police dispersed a group of about 300 people who barricaded the M2 freeway, said Muridili.

“It is alleged that one group then headed to Jeppestown where they looted a number of businesses. Seven suspects were arrested, four of whom were found inside one of the stores, while three were arrested for public violence and for being in possession of suspected stolen property,” she said.

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department said there were reports that “live rounds” were being fired at vehicles on the freeway, and that parts of the CBD were “no-go areas”.

Muridili said police also dispersed a group in Bramley, near Alexandra.

She said an investigation was also underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of a 40-year old man who was certified dead at a local clinic.

“Police working closely with metro police, [officers] have overnight, been able to disperse crowds and foil attempts to barricade roads. No further looting has been reported,” said Muridili on Sunday.

“The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure is working about the clock to enhance operational capacity at provincial level in response to incidents in which people appear to be undermining the authority of the state, including the flouting of the DMA [Disaster Management Act] regulations,” she said.

The police also issued a warning to people circulating “inflammatory messages” and inciting “violence and lawlessness” saying the possibility of criminal charges against such people could not be ruled out, “particularly in the event of injury or death that may come as a result of any operational response by the security forces to these incidents of violence and opportunistic criminality”.

Police in both provinces were working closely with metro police departments and Muridili said they have heightened visibility and remained on high alert for incidents of “opportunistic criminality” and violent protests.