Early on Thursday morning, police and soldiers began to conduct door-to-door raids in the Boiketlong informal settlement in Sebokeng near Vanderbijlpark to search for items that were looted during last week’s riots.
Confiscated items, which included mattresses, canned food and a TV, were loaded into a police truck.
Community policing forums were part of the search. They hailed the operation, but said that they were now vulnerable to attacks by some members of the community.
“We are trying to work with law enforcement in identifying people who were seen with looted stuff last week,” said Tshekedi Moloi (40), who has been living in the area for five years.
He told City Press that he was threatened by some community members who accused him of being a spy.
“One guy said he would come for me after the police and soldiers were gone. He whispered that he knows where I live with my family, so I am scared for my life now.”
However, he said he was undeterred and would continue to help the police recover items stolen from the nearby Thabong Shopping Centre.
“I think it is my duty to help our security forces bring back the law. People can’t get away with this. Thousands of jobs have been lost as a result of the looting,” said Moloi.
Martha Mpolokeng said she was woken up at about 5am when the police violently knocked on her door.
“They almost broke down the door of my shack. They searched the entire place but didn’t find what they were looking for. I was made to produce a receipt for a jacket I bought before the violence happened,” she said.
According to News24, an elderly man who was arrested after hardware materials were found in his shack claimed his son had stolen the items.
Mpolokeng also told City Press that she was not home when the violence and looting took place, but was visiting her mother in Johannesburg.
“If they want to raid, they must first identify the people who were involved, they must not traumatise those of us who are innocent with their guns and rude talk.”
A number of communities were similarly raided in Soweto and Alexandra after looting and destruction of property was sparked last week after the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma, who is serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.