You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Police Arrest 41 People as Looting Spree Erupts in Johannesburg

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 9/2/2019 Nkululeko Ncana

(Bloomberg) -- Police arrested at least 41 people and fought running battles with looters across Johannesburg after a series of attacks that a human-rights group said targeted foreigners.

Images broadcast on South Africa’s public broadcaster showed people breaking into stores and carrying away foodstuffs, alcohol and clothing. In the eastern suburb of Malvern, at least three people died in a fire before looting started, according to the police.

The unrest evoked memories of anti-immigrant violence in 2015 that left at least seven people dead before the army and police restored calm. In 2008, about 60 people were killed and 50,000 others were forced to flee their homes in similar clashes.

“We believe that these attacks are xenophobic,” said Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group.

The South African Human Rights Commission said it’s “deeply concerned” about the violence in Gauteng province, as the police warned they would crack down on further acts of criminality.

“Those who are hell-bent on turning Gauteng into a crime haven will be found and will face the full might of the law,” provincial police commissioner, Elias Mawela, said in a statement.

Previous attacks have mostly taken place in poor townships, where some residents see migrants as competitors for jobs, business opportunities and scarce housing. The latest unrest happened in areas including central Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial capital.

Read More
Army Backs South Africa Police to Stem Attacks on Immigrants Rainbow Nation Betrayed as South Africans Attack Immigrants

Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Nigerians, Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants have previously been the target of the violence.

The violence is “unacceptable,” Ace Magashule, the secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress, said in remarks broadcast on television.

“We condemn this violence which is taking place, irrespective of whatever reasons people want to give,” he said.

The Johannesburg Metropolitan Bus services, which transports tens of thousands of passengers daily to various points around the city, suspended it services until further notice due to the violence.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nkululeko Ncana in Johannesburg at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at, Paul Richardson, Alastair Reed

For more articles like this, please visit us at

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon