Riots ravage downtown Joburg, shops looted and at least 50 vehicles burnt

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A wave of violent riot action swept over Johannesburg on Sunday night, with areas in the CBD, specifically Malvern and Jeppestown, being transformed into a warzone as law enforcement agencies attempted to quell the dissidence.

It’s reported that angry residents took the streets on Sunday evening. While the exact cause of the mob madness has not yet been established, various witnesses claim that the contention stems from a building fire which claimed the lives of three residents.

Joburg riots: 12 arrested after shops looted, cars burnt

A large crowd of rioters descended onto the streets below and began to plunder shops and business in their path. The mob looted goods from numerous stores along Jules Street, leaving in their wake a trail of destruction and flame.

Chief of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), David Tembe, confirmed that the area became a no-go zone shortly after midnight. Warning motorists to steer clear, Tembe also noted that law enforcement agencies were on the scene, attempting to disperse the riled-up crowd.

Running battles between police officers and rioters persisted throughout the early hours of the morning, with the situation eventually being brought under control shortly before day break on Monday.

Tembe confirmed that at least 12 people had been arrested for their involvement in the chaos.

The damage as a result of the riots, still too vast to accurately account for, included over 50 vehicles which were gutted by arson while parked in a storage facility. Shop windows all along Turfontein Road, Hay Street and Jules Street were smashed out and commodities ripped from the store’s shelves.

City of Johannesburg clean-up crews are still busy removing burning debris from roads in the area.

Other riots in the Gauteng province

This fresh wave of unrest follows similar flare-ups in Tshwane last week. Both of these incidents are said to emanate from fierce xenophobic tensions in the area. Last week, the inner-city streets of Pretoria descended into chaos, with rioters and looters setting flame to foreign-owned shops.

Police fought running battles with the rioters for more than 24-hours. The situation was finally brought under control on Friday.

Prior to the Tshwane unrest, in July, Johannesburg’s inner city was brought to a standstill when law enforcement agencies conducted raids on shops suspected of selling counterfeit goods. The police officers were met with a wave of resistance which forced their exit from the area.

Both the mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, and the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura, have blamed illegal immigrants for the disorder.