In carrying out raids on foreign-owned shops that sell counterfeit goods in the Johannesburg central business district the South African Police Service were not being xenophobic, they were merely tackling illegality.
These were the sentiments expressed by Police Minister Bheki Cele when he and Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited the Johannesburg CBD after a day of raids by the SAPS that saw law enforcement uncover seven rifles, numerous machine guns and hand guns as well as tons of counterfeit goods.
Makhura also announced that some of the buildings in the CBD were not only used to sell counterfeit goods but also for human trafficking and harbouring criminals.
Cele told the media: “It’s not anti-anyone, these raids are a demonstration that the SAPS are anti-illegality.”
Police Minister Bheki Cele says the raid was a matter of illegality and had nothinh to do with targeting foreign national. Picture: Palesa Dlamini/City Press
He went on to rubbish suggestions that the raids were the SAPS’s response to protests by traders in the inner city last week that resulted in a standoff with police and injuries to some law enforcement officials.
Individuals believed to be foreign shop owners and street vendors – whose goods were confiscated by police during a raid – pelted stones at police vehicles and injured some officials during the scuffle.’
However, Cele said such raids had been undertaken by the police “for a while and had nothing to do with the SAPS getting back at foreign nationals”.
Makhura, who accompanied Cele, said the raids had proved very effective as in the process the police had uncovered numerous firearms and human trafficking rings at Medical Center 1 building situated on Rahima Moosa Street (formerly known as Old Jeppe Street).
“In this building right there we uncovered seven rifles, machine guns and numerous hand guns; the culprit claimed to be running a legitimate security company. We discovered that some of the buildings are also being used for human trafficking,” said Makhura.
Gauteng Premiere David Makhura walked the streets of Johannesburg CBD as raids were being carried out by law enforcement. Picture: Palesa Dlamini/City Press
Cele said even though the unnamed individual claimed to be running a legitimate business he was already in violation of numerous laws as the firearms were not kept in a safe in accordance to gun laws.
Sources speaking to City Press said following the raid the police would be taking stock of the monetary value of the goods confiscated and would be releasing a statement on the value of the goods.
The sources also confirmed that the police would release the exact number of foreign nationals arrested on the day either being in the country illegally or for trading illegally.