Sirens wailed across some of Cape Town’s suburbs as the police sped from one looting hot spot to another on Wednesday, with some people seemingly unmoved by the presidential promise of additional grant money and food parcels.
A group tried to overrun Watergate Mall on two fronts in Mitchells Plain earlier in the day, but various policing units saturated the area to stop them from descending on the retail hub which houses brands such as Shoprite.
Authorities had just regained control of the R300 dual carriageway, and officers ran back to their vehicles, with reports of another attempted looting in progress coming over their radios.
They slalomed around debris and motorists confused by the sudden detours and roadblocks while police quelled the looting attempts, and sped off to their next destination, masks covering their faces.
The pop of rubber bullets was heard as looters were dispersed.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Novelwa Potela noted the following incidents by Wednesday afternoon:
– In Elsies River, a supermarket on Halt Road was ambushed by a group of about 15 people who took items valued at R3 000. Elsies River police arrested four people between the ages of 32 and 43 on charges of theft. An attempt to break into a closed butchery in the area was thwarted by the police who dispersed the crowd.
– In Delft South, about 50 people stormed a supermarket and made off with groceries valued at R4 000. The police also dispersed a large crowd which had gathered nearby. Tracing of the perpetrators is underway but on Tuesday, on Keerboom Street and Delft Main Road, shops were looted and five people between the ages of 26 and 31 were arrested for theft.
– In Samora Machel, Phillipi East, the police prevented a group from looting a delivery truck after barricades were placed on the road at about 10:30. The group ran into Heinz Park, which is near a flyover bridge, and then tried to storm nearby Watergate Mall. Four suspects were arrested for public violence as the police and other law enforcement agencies saturated the area.
– In Vredenburg on the West Coast, between 300 and 400 residents of Witteklip threw stones at the police who had stopped them from storming a local spaza shop. They had complained about not getting food parcels and also rounded on a councillor’s house. Four people were arrested.
– The police also reported another incident of one of their own being implicated in a booze-related crime, this time in Caledon on Sunday. A security guard “first responder” was also arrested in that case for burglary and theft.
Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato slammed the looting, saying people who needed help should call the SA Social Security Agency on 0800 60 10 11 or 021 469 0235 to get information on food distribution.
He said there were also soup kitchens that people could approach for food, adding assistance to these was being scaled up.
Plato asked people who witnessed looting to call their local police station, the City of Cape Town’s emergency number 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700, or the police on 10111.