#UnrestSA: Police on high alert in KZN to quell isolated incidents of looting

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Police stand by in KZN.
Police stand by in KZN.
Claudine Senekal, Ladysmith Herald
  • Isolated instances of arson and looting in KZN persist - with police on high alert. 
  • Looters returned to a warehouse in Hammarsdale on Sunday before they were set upon by cops. 
  • Police have refused to divulge details on further attacks, deaths and arrests. 

The calm in KwaZulu-Natal remains tenuous, with sporadic reports of attacks across the province at the weekend.

In what President Cyril Ramaphosa has called an insurrection, supporters loyal to his jailed predecessor seeded looting and unrest, which later spilled into Gauteng.

With simultaneous attacks and a general failure of intelligence gathering, police resources were stretched thin.

At least 25 000 SANDF troops have been deployed across the country to stave off further violence.

A total of 212 people have been killed and thousands arrested, according to dated figures published on Friday.  

Among those arrested are four alleged instigators of the chaos, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele, who was speaking on the fringes of a community engagement on Sunday.

The latest trio arrested, he added, would appear in court on Monday.

READ | Police arrest 3 more people allegedly behind 'failed insurrection'

It was earlier announced that 12 ringleaders had been identified, and Cele was steadfast that they would be tracked down and held to account.

In Hammarsdale, west of Durban, police dispersed a mob of looters, who had returned to a warehouse in an industrial complex early on Sunday – a facility which was raided at the peak of the violence during the week.

A source in law enforcement, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the warehouse had first been hit by looters on Tuesday.

"The place was attacked during the week, but a crowd of people returned in the early hours of Sunday morning," he said.

The source said police responded and dispersed the mob. In the process, a fire was started at the warehouse and a column of smoke rising from the building was visible for kilometres.

In a separate incident on Saturday night, a warehouse in Munster on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast was razed by fire.

ALSO READ | Looter crushed to death in Westmead, Pinetown, structural collapse

While News24 has tracked flashpoints of scattered violence, the police have now closed ranks. They are refusing to divulge details on the number of incidents, deaths and arrests recorded over the weekend.

"The cumulative number of incidents, arrests and fatalities are done during the acting minister in the Presidency's briefings," police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said on Sunday.

She would not be drawn to comment further, save for directing queries to the office of the minister (Khumbudzo Ntshavheni). 

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