Police arrest 20 in Ekurhuleni after service delivery protests ‘erupt into lawlessness’

Thokoza Park residents extinguish a fire reported to have been set alight by protesters. Picture: Neil McCartney

Police say six suspects were arrested for possession of suspected stolen property related to the looting, while 14 suspects were arrested for contravention of the curfew.

Police in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, have arrested 20 suspects after service delivery protests erupted “into lawlessness”.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the protests prompted the police to intensify their presence in the areas around Eden Park, Thokoza, Phola Park and Reiger Park.

Peters said the protests broke out on Wednesday and that the police have since been “on high alert” and closely monitoring these areas.

“This comes after incidents of violence and general lawlessness erupted from what started as sporadic service delivery protests related to electricity cuts in the mentioned areas on Wednesday afternoon.

“Criminal elements took advantage of the protests and attacked and looted three shops in Eden Park. A warehouse was also torched,” Peters said.

Six suspects were arrested for possession of suspected stolen property related to the looting, while 14 suspects were arrested for contravention of the Covid-19 Disaster Management Act lockdown regulations in relation to the restriction of movement of persons between 9pm and 4am, Peters said.

“The situation is currently calm but tense, while police will remain in the area to ensure that no further incidents of violence and criminality erupt.

“Police have warned against the incitement of violence by those with criminal intentions, using service delivery protests as an opportunity to commit crime and stir violence amongst communities,” Peters said.

The Citizen’s Neil McCartney was in the area on Thursday and witnessed foreign shop owners packing up their goods under police and army guard in Phola Park, Thokoza, after groups of people in the area attacked foreigners, looted shops and burned possessions.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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