Police were deployed to the Johannesburg city centre on Thursday to monitor a violent strike, as foreigners selling “counterfeit” goods repelled against the confiscation of their products by police.
The police defended themselves by shooting rubber bullets to dispel the crowd, speaking to reporters, the
Gauteng premier David Makhura explained that police came under attack from bricks and petrol bombs. As hoards of rioters cornered law enforcement officers, the operation was abruptly terminated. Police, under fierce attack, were forced to retreat, he also noted that the situation shouldnt have reached that point.
Mr Makhura , speaking to Time Live said ” Some foreign nationals who sell counterfeit goods and occupy buildings illegally in the CBD attacked our police with bottles and petrol bombs. This despicable crime against our state will never be tolerated, OkaeMolao will respond in full force to defend the rule of law,” he said
An official statement released by Gauteng community safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko, noted:
[Police] tactically withdrew from an intelligence-driven operation targeting counterfeit goods in the Joburg CBD. This came after a violent crowd of foreign nationals attacked police with objects including bricks and petrol bombs.
We condemn all criminal elements hellbent on undermining the rule of the law in this country and making this country ungovernable.
We can’t co-govern with criminals, especially foreign nationals who want to turn our country into a lawless Banana Republic.”
Makhura has since vowed to retaliate against ‘foreign nationals’ who attacked police officers. Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, who has been especially critical of the influx of ‘undocumented foreigners’ into the City, called for a ‘shut down’ of the entire area.
Foreign nationals, meanwhile, say that they have been unfairly targeted by police during multiple operations in the CBD. Chairperson of the Africa Diaspora, Vusimuzi Sibanda, spoke to SABC News on Friday afternoon, saying:
“We met the Johannesburg station commander on 10 June. In our discussion we agreed – even the station commander agreed – that if there is an [police] operation, as the Africa Diaspora, they can tell us in the morning, we can come and see that everything is done within the confines of the law.
But that is not what is happening.
There is a complete and blatant abuse of the rights of the people that are here because nobody thinks they are worth protecting.”
Sibanda hit back at claims that foreign nationals operating within the CBD were there illegally, arguing:
“They are referred to, generally, as illegal immigrants. These people have shops here, we can’t have illegal immigrants having all these shops. These people have documents, that’s why they are able to get these shops.”