The road fight among police and angered street vendors in the Joburg (Johannesburg) CBD could have finished in a “bloodbath”, police said on Friday.
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said officers “tactically withdrew from an intelligence-driven operation targeting counterfeit goods in the Joburg CBD”.
This after a fierce horde of road sellers pelted and shielded vehicles with containers, blocks, and oil bombs in counter for the strikes.
“Due to the volatility of the situation, the police retreated to avoid a situation where they would be forced to use live ammunition,” Peters said in a statement.
“Of priority at this point was ensuring that there was no bloodshed or death.”
She said no police officials were harmed, however, two individuals and one paramedic seriously injured.
The provincial commissioner of police in Gauteng, lieutenant general Elias Mawela, said he condemned “the incessant undermining of the authority of the state by these foreign nationals in the Johannesburg CBD”.
“Such lawlessness cannot be allowed to go unpunished,” he said.
Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko condemned the attack on law enforcement.
“We can’t co-govern with criminals, especially foreign nationals who want to turn our country into a lawless banana republic.
“We will assert our authority and show ungovernable foreign nationals that there are laws in South Africa and they must be respected,” Mazibuko said.
Gauteng premier David Makhura promised to come down hard on foreigners who attacked police officers.
Taking to Twitter on Thursday night, Makhura said: “Some foreign nationals who sell counterfeit goods and occupy buildings illegally in the Joburg CBD attacked our police with bottles and petrol bombs. This despicable crime against our state will never be tolerated.”
He said operation Okae Molao, described on its Twitter page as a “campaign led by the Gauteng department of community safety to ensure that Gauteng is a safe and secure province”, would retaliate.
“#OkaeMolao will respond in full force to defend [the] rule of law,” Makhura tweeted.
Some foreign nationals who sell counterfeit goods and occupy buildings illegally in the Joburg 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 rule of law
— David Makhura (@David_Makhura) August 1, 2019
Jhb cbd pic.twitter.com/JJ5Mc81701
— Somnandi (@Somnand20345214) August 1, 2019
Economic refugees are trashing Jhb CBD maybe they have become too comfortable I think they have overstayed their welcome. pic.twitter.com/S7kbbxWi7R
— Koena. (@ThabaKoena) August 1, 2019
What is ur say about this latest happenings in jhb cbd? ? pic.twitter.com/6PCz724354
— Nkosinomusa Buthelezi ????? (@NkosinomusaB) August 2, 2019
This won’t end well. Police that forever taking bribes @ foreigners. South Africans are getting fed up? Jhb Cbd is a mess. Look, something drastic needs to happen ASAP? pic.twitter.com/TvAD3ElJRF
— mshini wa ko Nandos (@steven_dudene) August 1, 2019
In 2015 and 2016 these cops shot at students in all the Universities acoss SA. Today they struggling to deal with this madness in the JHB CBD. Mxm nimagwala nina…@HermanMashaba please ask for the army from @MYANC pic.twitter.com/4R4d2y87hg
— Tshepo (@mndawe_tshepo) August 1, 2019