Alexandra township in Johannesburg is on lockdown following a night of looting and widespread violence.
Law enforcement officials who descended on the area on Monday worked throughout the night and into Tuesday morning trying to quell the violence.
Shops were looted and some burnt down in the area on Monday night as the violence that hit Gauteng last week has since spread.
School children, who were not in school because they were closed, were seen going through the rubble and collecting shells from rubber bullets which were fired during the looting and violence.
On Tuesday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko and Gauteng SA Police Service Commissioner Elias Mawela visited the Pan Africa Shopping Centre, where mostly foreign-owned shops were vandalised. Makhura spoke to some of the shop owners who explained their heartache.
Mohamed Murshid, who owns Rihat Supermarket, said he lost more than R3 million worth of stock and equipment during Monday night’s looting.
Shop owner Mohamed Murshid says he lost an estimated R3million worth of stock and equipment. Picture: Sthembiso Lebuso/ City Press
“I have lost all hope. I invested all of my savings into my shop and now it’s all gone. My life is finished now,” Murshid said solemnly.
Makhura said the situation had a criminal element to it.
“This was a calculated criminal act,” he said, adding that there was a xenophobic sentiment underlying the unrest.
“We are a democratic society; we can’t allow people to take the law into their own hands.”
He said nothing could justify the violence.
“Yes, it is important to secure our borders, but we can do so without resorting to violence,” Makhura said.
Mawela said that since Monday more than 80 people had been arrested for violence and looting in the province. Seven were arrested in Alexandra.
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“We have the capacity to deal with the situation. Those who are orchestrating this criminality will be dealt with,” Mawela warned.
A statement issued by Gauteng government on Tuesday afternoon condemned the widespread protests and said that assistance would be provided to those affected.
“The Gauteng provincial disaster management centre is currently conducting an assessment in the affected areas and will advise the provincial government on any humanitarian assistance that can be offered to those adversely impacted by the violence,” read the statement.