Police fire rubber bullets at 'looting' hostel dwellers

2015-04-16 14:26
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Johannesburg - Police on Thursday confirmed that they had fired rubber bullets at Wattville hostel dwellers outside Actonville in Benoni. 

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The group was attempting to break into and loot shops, said Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini. 

They were also preventing vehicles from passing through the area. 

"The situation is under control at the moment and there is heavy police presence. No break-ins or injuries have been reported so far in the area," Dlamini said. 

Wattville resident, Mbali Vilakazi, said the unrest at the nearby hostel had caused several disruptions around the township. 

"There are no taxis operating in the area and it seems like police are trying to prevent the people from the hostel from crossing into the township," he said. 

Dlamini condemned the violence. 

"The act of this violent group is regarded as a criminal act with the intention to rob and steal from the shops and it will not be tolerated," he said.

Reports from Eyewitness News had labelled the unrest as xenophobic attacks. 

EWN reported that locals were also threatening truck drivers and demanding that foreigners leave the area.

On Wednesday, a text message from Actonville councillor Haseenabanu Ismail began doing the rounds.

"Avoid driving in or around hostel & informal (squatter) settlements in Actonville. Area is very volatile now. Please call contacts who normally uses these roads," the text message read.

Another text message was sent to residents on a community alert WhatsApp group on Thursday.

"Please be very vigilant and alert especially Actonville area near hostel and dunswart bridge. Small groups gathering with weapons in their hands. Not sure of their intentions. But as previous msgs was sent out, a possible situation is arising," the message read.

Most of the shops in the area were closed on Thursday and shop owners had closed early on Wednesday for their own safety.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  xenophobia

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