“It started at 11am. They [the community] started looting spaza shops owned by foreign nationals,” Captain Stanley Jarvis said.
“Individuals were behind the Cleary Park shopping centre burning tyres, putting obstructions in the road and throwing stones at passing vehicles,” he said
Public order police were called to the area.
Jarvis said the crowd became “very aggressive” and police had to use rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse them.
Police were also called to Timothy Valley, where residents looted shops and barricaded roads with burning tyres.
“Sporadic incidents happened where they tried to loot certain shops… public order policing were patrolling the neighbourhood… and they assisted the Somali businessmen to unpack their goods and escort them out of Timothy Valley to a safer venue,” said Jarvis.
Jarvis said Wednesday’s incidents were a spillover from Greenfields and Vastrap, where police arrested three community leaders at 3am on Tuesday for the murder of two men accused of robbing a spaza shop.
After the arrested, the community started blockading roads with rocks, poles, bushes and bricks, and burning tyres, said Jarvis.
At 7.45am, the Bethelsdorp station commander addressed the crowd, but they were not happy with his advice, and his reasons for the arrests.
Jarvis said the residents started burning tyres again and throwing rocks at passing vehicles.
At 8.45pm, the police had to use rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. Twelve people were arrested.
Jarvis said the 12, five minors and seven adults, appeared in court on Wednesday. They were released on a warning.
Police were still patrolling all the affected areas on Wednesday night.
“[We are ensuring] that either property or possessions of the Somali shopkeepers are not being stolen or damaged,” he said.
“We as the SA Police Service will not tolerate this type of behaviour, where a small amount of people cause anarchy in a community that is peaceful and deserves the right to be safe and secure.”
There has been recent spate of violence, mostly targeted at foreign-owned shops.
Violence in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, started on Sunday when Somalian Bishar Isaack, 39, allegedly shot dead two Zimbabweans outside his shop when they allegedly tried to rob him.
He was arrested and appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. The case was postponed to June 4, when he was expected to bring a formal bail application.
Gauteng police spokesman Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said members of the public later stoned and looted the shop. They also looted several other shops.
In the Vaal, police received around 100 complaints of looting and vandalism of shops belonging to foreigners and South Africans, following service-delivery protests in the area last week.
Scores of people have been arrested for the attacks in both areas.