Police in Johannesburg are investigating a case of malicious damage to property after a group of shop owners in the CBD vandalised three police vehicles on Thursday.
This after police conducted a raid on shops in Jeppe Street which were allegedly selling fake goods. However, police say the owners retaliated, preventing them from confiscating the goods.
The owners then chased police officials down the street, throwing stones at them.
In videos going viral on social media, the crowd can be seen shouting and throwing stones at a police Nyala which is seen trying to drive away from the scene.
Johannesburg Central Police Station spokeperson Xoli Mbele said among the goods sold in the shop were "fake" versions of sportswear brands such as Nike, Puma and Adidas.
Mbele said rubber bullets had to be used by to disperse the crowd.
No one was injured and no arrests had been made, he added.
Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, MEC Faith Mazibuko has since condemned the attacks on the police and members of other law enforcement agencies, saying the rule of law was being undermined.
"We condemn all criminal elements hellbent on undermining the rule of the law in this country and making this country ungovernable. We can't co-govern with criminals, especially foreign nationals who want to turn our country into a lawless Banana Republic."
She said her department would return to the area alongside SAPS, the Johannesburg Metro Police, Home Affairs and SARS Customs officials, in a joint operation.
"We will assert our authority and show ungovernable foreign nationals that there are laws in South Africa and they must be respected. We will also liaise with the Minister of [Department of International Relations and Cooperation] DIRCO to engage embassies to encourage their citizens to respect the laws of this country."
Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said law enforcement agencies had opted to tactically withdraw from the intelligence-driven operation targeting counterfeit goods in the after the violent crowd attacked police with objects including bricks and petrol bombs.
"Due to the volatility of the situation, police retreated to avoid a situation where they would be forced to use live ammunition. Of priority at this point was ensuring that there was no bloodshed or death."
She said although no law enforcement members had sustained injuries, two of the brand owners who had accompanied the officers on the operation as well as one paramedic had sustained serious injuries.
Peters said the situation was now calm and that police were closely monitoring the area to make sure no further violence erupt.
Gauteng Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela said: "Such lawlessness cannot be allowed to go unpunished".
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