Unrest flares up in Joburg CBD: Police fire rubber bullets on marchers armed with sticks and pangas

2019-09-08 16:30

Businesses in parts of the Johannesburg city centre and surrounding areas have shut their doors as a group of men, believed to be mostly hostel dwellers from Jeppestown, march and protest on Sunday afternoon.

Some of the men are armed with sticks and pangas. It's understood they are calling for African migrants to leave the city.

It's understood the men who marched to the city centre are the same group who disrupted a gathering which was being addressed by Inkatha Freedom Party President Emeritus Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Sunday morning.

Buthulezi went to Murray Park, which is on the corner of Jules and Berg streets in Jeppestown, to speak to around "1200" George Goch, Denver and Jeppestown hostel residents following a week of xenophobic violence and looting.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters, in a statement, said a splinter group "disrupted the address and left before proceedings were concluded".

Peters confirmed that a number of businesses and shops were attacked and damaged as the group marched through the city.

"Incidents of attacks on businesses have since been reporte in parts of the CBD where police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to restrain the growing crowd who attempted to move through the CBD via corner Bree and Twist Streets," said the brigadier in her statement.

Peters said police had not received reports of any injuries or fatalities.

She cautioned members of the people to stay away from Jeppestown, the MTN taxi rank and shops in the city centre.

Sunday Independent Roland Mpofu, who was stuck in a closed shop the taxi rank, told News24 he was in the terminus when he saw a group of about 30 people "attacking" a shop.

He said he tried to take photos of the looting as it unfolded, but the mob turned on him, wanting to attack him.

Mpofu and other civilians were hiding in a shop, waiting for calm to be restored.

READ | Xenophobic attacks: Did the authorities miss the signs?

Earlier Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said the group were said to be on their way to the Jeppestown Police Station. He said the crowds were enroute to the station to lodge a grievance which was unknown to metro police. 

"They damaged a glass from a container along the way and a bicycle from a cyclist on the way," Minnaar said. 

No arrests have been made and traffic in the city is not affected as metro police monitor the group, he added. 

According to footage shared on Twitter, the crowds were seen singing and chanting with sticks and tree branches on them.

Other footage shows damaged windows from one of the buildings the people had marched past.

On Thursday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said 10 people, including two foreign nationals, were killed in the attacks in the past week.

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