Acting police commissioner Lt-General Khomotso Phahlane on Friday noted with concern that despite pleas for peace‚ acts of violence‚ damage to property‚ stoning of police members and looting were reported during the course of this anti-immigrant march.
Speaking in Pretoria on Friday afternoon‚ the acting commissioner said though the group from Mamelodi Concerned Residents‚ the organisers of the march‚ had protested peacefully‚ a group from Atteridgeville blocked roads‚ burnt tyres and threw stones.
“They also‚ without authority to do so‚ marched on the central business district where they were dispersed after there was a confrontation with another group‚ apparently consisting of non-South Africans.
“This march follows periodic violence and looting over the past week‚” he said.
Phahlane‚ however‚ said they acted swiftly‚ arresting 136 people over the past 24 hours during stabilising operations.
He said these people were arrested in connection with various crimes including the looting that took place in Atteridgeville and Pretoria West this morning.
“We would like to thank all law enforcement officials deployed today and over the past week for professionally fulfilling their constitutional mandate to maintain peace‚ safety and stability‚” he said.
Phahlane said despite the challenges associated with crowd management‚ police exercised maximum restraint at all times while at the same time minimising disruptions and containing violence.
He warned those engaging in violent and unlawful acts that the law enforcement agencies of this country would not tolerate such conduct and would act within the confines of the law to bring those responsible to book.
“Those who are inciting violence will also face criminal prosecution‚” he said.
Phahlane said it was disturbing to note that fake news‚ false messages and hoax images and videos were being circulated in an irresponsible manner via social media.
“Last night a video of a crowd sharpening dangerous weapons was circulated as having taken place in Hillbrow yesterday when it had in fact been filmed in Durban in 2015‚” he said.
Phahlane said that all must take responsibility for safety in South Africa and refrain from being part of the problem by spreading false messages and promoting panic.
“Fortunately so far today we have not had reports of injuries as a result of violence‚” he said
Phahlane disagreed that the fact that South Africans were taking to the street to deal with criminality said to be perpetrated by foreign nationals was an indictment on police’s failure to protect citizens against criminality.
He said South Africans must take collective responsibility for the criminality taking place‚ saying it was not the SAPS that hired out houses to foreign nationals from where drugs were sold.
Phahlane said they would continue to monitor the situation to ensure law and order.