North West police are cracking down on people who used recent service delivery protests as a cover to commit crimes, vowing they will face the “full might of the law”.
In Mahikeng, protesters had been calling on North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo to resign for alleged corruption for several weeks before the protests spread to other parts of the province.
Mahumapelo has so far refused to step down and will deliver his budget speech in the provincial legislature today.
North West police spokesperson Sabata Mokgwabone said yesterday: “The police have been recovering goods and arresting suspects in Mahikeng, Jouberton, Sannieshof, Pudimoe, and Christiana, where goods were looted from businesses during the recent protests.”
Eleven suspects had been arrested in Jouberton on Wednesday for allegedly breaking into an ATM machine and taking the safe.
Mokgwabone said: “They allegedly removed an undisclosed amount of money from the safe and took it away with them while community protests were going on in Jouberton.
“Their luck ran out when the provincial organised crime team apprehended them at a tavern and police recovered a substantial amount of money.”
He also confirmed that five alleged looters were arrested in Seweding on Friday during a police tracking and recovery operation. They appeared in the Mmabatho Magistrate’s Court yesterday on charges of possession of suspected stolen goods. They were arrested after tip-offs to the police.
“During searches at the suspects’ homes, plumbing and building materials worth thousands [of rands] looted from a local hardware business were found,” Mokgwabone said.
Meanwhile, during an unrelated protest in Rustenburg yesterday, police used rubber bullets to disperse protesters demanding low-cost housing. They barricaded the R565 road linking Rustenburg and Sun City with burning tyres, rocks and branches at Boshoek near Ledig.
No arrests were made and police maintained high visibility in the area throughout the day.