Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has expressed deep sadness over the chaos that erupted in Johannesburg’s inner city on Thursday when law enforcement agencies attempted to confiscate counterfeit goods from informal traders.
Earlier today Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, condemned the violent, riotous behavior, spearheaded by people believed to ‘foreign nationals’, which engulfed the Johannesburg CBD.
Mashaba says he would have expected the city to be closed off and all criminals behind bars by now.
“Being bold is not about breaking the law, because two wrongs cannot make a right. I don’t have the powers as the Metro to arrest these people, prosecute them and put them in the jail. The City of Johannesburg doesn’t have prosecutors, the City doesn’t have prisons and Home Affairs to process people to ensure that they are legal, so I don’t have those powers. If I can try and do that I’d be breaking the law and acting against the Constitution.”
The Police Service and Johannesburg Metro Police Department clashed with foreign nationals after police vehicles were damaged due to the protest.
Street vendors in the Johannesburg CBD have accused the police of terrorizing them while conducting raids to seize counterfeit goods.
An armoured vehicle was pelted with stones and rubbish bins were overturned.
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Political parties react to the riots
The ANC, NAPF, the IFP and Cope have all condemned the attacks saying it undermines the rule of law and the sovereignty of the state.
Cope’s Dennis Bloom says attacks against police can never be allowed. “We can never allow a situation where our Police are being attacked and they can’t react and retaliate.”
The IFP’s Bonginkosi Dlamini says riots law enforcement agencies must deal with such unruly behaviour. “We must sort out and make sure that there is order, but we really condemn this barbaric behaviour and we call on government to really not allow to co-govern with criminals.”
The National People’s Front says all government entities and departments must come together to find a lasting solution to this challenge.
The ANC says the attack on the country’s law-enforcement officers is an attack on the state and its sovereignty, and must never go unpunished.
The governing party says not only does this undermine the rule of law, but it also poses a serious threat to the security of the state.