POLICE in the Free State have now arrested more than 70 people, after the so-called “Mangaung shutdown” protests rocked Bloemfontein at the start of the week.
The protests saw shops, owned by foreign nationals, come under attack as members of the community began to loot them.
The protests, which were organised under the banner of the “Mangaung shutdown”, saw 13 shops looted and 13 people were arrested for public violence as of Tuesday.
Among the arrested was a security guard, who was charged for the murder of a teenage boy. The teenager was shot dead by a security guard, at a warehouse which community members allegedly stormed on Monday.
Free State police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said the protesters caused damage, looted foreign-owned shops, and injured some of the foreign shopkeepers.
“The total number of people who were arrested, since the shutdown protests started on Sunday evening, stand at 70, and we anticipate more arrests, as there are more shop owners still reporting additional cases.
“There were other protests which were reported in areas like Soutpan, Dewetsdorp and Zastron. In the Zastron protests, about 20 people were arrested thus far, for public violence and looting, which took place at foreign nationals’ shops as well.
“Up to this morning, all these areas were reported to be quiet, but police deployments are still in these places and will be there until the situation has been normalised,” said Makhele.
Those arrested, including the murder-accused security guard, were expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
“Once more, we are appealing to those criminal elements, who are continuing to loot the shops and barricade the roads, to stop – as we consider their conduct to be pure criminality,” said Makhele.