JOHANNESBURG – Photographs that were circulating on social media and published in a daily newspaper that suggest police officers took part in the looting of shops in Tshwane townships “were misleading and untrue”, the SA Police Service (SAPS) said.
So here they are looting just as much as the protesters. pic.twitter.com/VzsFBnx47y
— Blou Bull Blond (@elize_beukes) June 22, 2016
SAPS officer benefiting from the looting in Pretoria typical of Zimbabwean police#Corruption 101 pic.twitter.com/RWqj5ZAGXV
— African (@IamAfrican263) June 21, 2016
“The SAPS strongly condemns this type of reporting and the distribution of these images as they were selectively published to tarnish the image of the SAPS and is totally misleading and untrue,” the office of acting national commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane said in a statement late Wednesday.
“The members were in no way involved in any act of criminality and were retrieving stolen goods from looters.”
The photographs, which show two uniformed officers carrying maize meal bags as they walk away from onlookers, were circulated on social media platforms and published by a daily newspaper.
At least 54 people have since been arrested and charged with public violence and possession of stolen goods after violent protests broke out three days ago in townships in Tshwane.
Roads were blocked, buses torched and shops looted in Atteridgeville, Mamelodi, Ga-Rankuwa and Hammanskraal.
Protests were sparked by the naming of African National Congress MP Thoko Didiza as the party’s mayoral candidate for the metro.
Protesters have warned the ANC they will not vote in the August 3 elections unless popular Mayor Kgosientso ‘Sputla’ Ramokgopa is retained.
The townships were calm on Wednesday, although several foreign-owned shops were reportedly looted overnight.
The violence had spread to Mabopane where local spaza shops were stormed and looted.
Police said two people were shot dead in Mamelodi on Tuesday night, when a mob tried to loot a Pakistani-owned shop in the area.