Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela has condemned the violent attacks on law enforcement agencies in the Johannesburg CBD on Thursday.
During an intelligence-driven operation targeting counterfeit goods in Joburg CDB last Thursday morning, law enforcement agencies along with brand owners decided to tactically withdraw their operations.
The tactical withdraw was due to a crowd of foreign nationals who attacked police with objects that included bricks and petrol bombs, said a statement released by Gauteng police spokesperson Mathapelo Peters.
“Due to the volatility of the situation, police retreated to avoid a situation where they would be forced to use live ammunition. Of priority at this point was ensuring that there was no bloodshed or death,” said Peters.
No law enforcement members sustained injuries however two brand owners and a paramedic sustained serious injuries.
Police are now closely monitoring the area to ensure no further violence takes place.
Mawela has condemned foreign nationals in the Johannesburg CBD who undermine the authority of the State.
“Such lawlessness cannot be allowed to go unpunished,” stated the Commissioner.
Gauteng MEC for community safety, MEC Faith Mazibuko, has also condemned the attacks, stating, “We condemn all criminal elements hell-bent on undermining the rule of law in this country and making this country ungovernable. We can’t co-govern with criminals.”
“Working together with SAPS, JMPD [Johannesburg Metro Police Department], Home Affairs and SARS [South African Revenue Service] Customs, we will conduct a joint operation in that area. We will assert our authority and show ungovernable foreign nationals that there are laws in South Africa and they must be respected.
“We will also liaise with the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation to engage embassies to encourage their citizens to respect the laws of this country.”
Police Portfolio Committee Chairperson Tina Joemat-Petterson has also denounced the acts of lawlessness in Johannesburg CBD as well as the City of Tshwane.
“Attacking officers of the law in downtown Johannesburg while they were busy with an operation targeting counterfeit goods must not be tolerated. It is unacceptable that Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and South African Police Services (SAPS) were stopped from doing their work as mandated by the law,” said Joemat-Pettersson.
Joemat-Petterson added that, “The rule of law is the central pillar of any democracy and the committee is steadfast in its view that the South African Police Service together with municipal policing structures must have collaborative plans in place to control such situations in future.”
“It is untenable that there will be no-go areas in the country for law enforcement officers,” said Joemat-Pettersson.
In addition, the community highlighted its displeasure with striking municipal workers and their disagreement with the municipality in the city of Tshwane. The committee was satisfied that the impasse was resolved but condemned the blocking of roads and preventing ease of movement.
“The committee will in its engagement with the management of SAPS highlight the need to strengthen training of police officers especially in relation to crowd management,” said Joemat-Pettersson.