#UnrestSA: At least 1 000 to appear in court following looting – Cele

#UnrestSA: At least 1 000 to appear in court following looting – Cele

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, visits Sea Cow Lake in Durban after looting and unrest.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, visits Sea Cow Lake in Durban after looting and unrest.

Gallo Images/Darren Stewart

  • At least 1 000 people will be in various courts on Monday for looting and unrest related incidents.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele said they expected to make further arrests.
  • The minister was at a recovery operation in Durban where various items, mainly kitchen appliances, were recovered.

At least 1 000 suspects were expected to appear in courts throughout South Africa on Monday as the country starts to pick up the pieces after nearly a full week of mass looting and civil unrest.  

“For us, this is evidence and exhibits. We want to send those people to court. There are 3 400 arrested and 1 000 appearing around the country today. Special courts and regulations have been put in place by the justice department. We are happy and hope the outcomes will be quick,” he told media.

Cele was speaking at the Mansel Market in Durban where law enforcement were running an operation to recover looted goods.

He said that, in addition to suspects arrested in Westonia, Braamfontein and Rooderpoort, a fourth had been nabbed recently.

“We have arrested a fourth one that are not appearing with these ones that you see today. So, the names, wait until they come out from court.”

READ | Major disruptions at Durban and Richards Bay ports due to unrest

Cele said they were actively trying to recover as much as they could following the looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. He said they would arrest people where needed.

Public tip-offs have helped

He lauded the public for tip-offs, saying they had led to items being recovered in Mansel Market.

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 18: Residents watch Po

Bheki Cele talks to residents in Sea Cow Lake over the weekend. The area was hit with looting.

“There is information that is given openly. We want to thank those members of society that give us a lot of tips and information going forward. As you could see, the appliances have really been victims – including fridges, TVs, stoves- have been victims of thuggery.

“There are also a lot of food stuff discovered in the rooms here. We are thankful to the community members who give us tips.”

ALSO READ | Instigators of unrest knew police were scattered, unprepared, Sitole says

Cele said those at the market who locked their goods up behind padlocks were not safe. He said they had begun attempting to recover items a few days ago.  

“If we have correct information, your padlock won’t help you, we will get there and get those things going forward. We started about three or four days ago. We were busy in the city centre and Albert Park area where we discovered a lot of things.”

Where do recovered items go?

Cele said all recovered items would remain with police for evidence.

“These things are going to SP13 (evidence storage), this is where we keep anything and everything that is an exhibit and will be used for evidence. After that, we will see. I know today there is a meeting between the SAPS and NPA to work on what happens to these things once cases are finalised.

“Thus far, they are in the custody of police. I know that SP13’s are full now, we are trying to get an [alternate space] to use as SP13 where things will be locked and police take care of them.”

Cele said not all items that were recovered had been consolidated.

“We have not consolidated the things we are picking. We have picked a lot of stuff. Looks like fridges are loved, everyone wanted these. There are a lot of fridges and stoves. Unfortunately, a lot of the things looted were broken. It might be a problem to reuse them.”

Phoenix and racial tensions

Cele said all community barricades had been removed in Phoenix, north of Durban, where racial tensions erupted during the unrest.

“It is a complete different story today. There are about 70 police patrolling and SANDF are sending 100 of their company, that is almost 100 people. The streets are taken over and cleaned out. There are no check points because the security forces are there.”

He said the Phoenix greater community formed a peace committee.

“Yesterday we were able to meet the committee made up of the four communities. Today they are meeting the team of 10 detectives where they are giving a list of the dead people and list of suspects where the detectives will take over.”

Cele said that 20 people had died during the unrest in Phoenix alone. 

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