POLICE recovered dozens of goods – including beds, fridges and clothes – believed to have been looted by Tshwane protesters during an operation in Mabopane Township.
Major General Daniel Mthombeni, Commander of Operation Stability, said over 747 law enforcement officers were deployed to hotspots like Central City Mall in Mabopane, and Batho Plaza, Block KK, Soshanguve.
This came after several shops were looted including Fair Price warehouse, Pick n Pay, Shoprite as well as several clothing shops.
Major General Mthombeni told SAnews that police had started with the search and seizure operation to stop criminality at Central City Mall and Batho Plaza.
“During the operation, which started around 9am, we got stolen goods new like bed base sets, plasma televisions, fridges and clothing which people could not account for with proof of purchase,” he said.
The majority of the seized items were still in sealed boxes, he added.
The recovered items, Major General Mthombeni added, have been booked in at Loate Police Station.
“If people want to prove that it’s their own items then they have to bring receipts to us before we release them,” he said.
The identification process of the reclaimed goods will begin next week, with business owners having to bring proof that it is indeed their stock.
The operation was expected to continue well into the night until calm was totally restored to the areas.
Major General Mthombeni said law enforcement visibility would be increased to deal with issues that may arise.
“These operations will play a critical role. People will see that we are reclaiming the hotspots. Those who have taken what does not belong to them will realise they will not get away with it.”
He said the operation was partly aimed at bringing relief to business owners whose shops were looted.
Major General Mthombeni said the looting has left some residents unsure of their employment as the affected business owners counted their stock losses and infrastructure damage.
Protests erupted in the area on Thursday night, with residents burning tyres and barricading roads.
However, police later appeared to have contained the situation.
Twenty people were arrested in Mabopane and 23 in Soshanguve, on charges which included possession of drugs.
“The situation in both hotspots is quite calm because we intensified police deployment and visibility,” Major General Mthombeni said.
The community was pleased with the police operation as many wanted the situation to return to normal, he insisted.
Police confirmed that five people have been killed and more than 200 arrested since the violence broke out last week.
Mayhem erupted in Tshwane over the announcement of former Public Works Minister Thoko Didiza as ANC mayoral candidate.
Protesters gutted buses, barricaded streets with burning tyres and pelted passing motorists with stones. – SAnews.gov.za