Seventy people have been arrested for public violence and looting spaza shops during protests in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape police said on Tuesday (17/09/2013).
Brigadier Marinda Mills said the situation was "tense but stable” on Tuesday morning after sporadic looting of shops owned by immigrants on Monday night.
Looting was reported in Kwadwesi, Missionvale, Swartkops, New Brighton, and Motherwell. The protests broke out after a Somali man was arrested for allegedly shooting a man dead outside a shop on Saturday evening.
"During our interaction with affected communities, it was clear that the motive for the attacks on foreign-owned spaza shops [was] not xenophobic in nature, but a criminal element that has seized an opportunity,” Mills said.
She said looting was considered public violence, a schedule one offence in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.
It was difficult for police to prevent looting as it was hard to predict when and where it would occur.
"Most of the foreign shop owners have been assisted to relocate their property to safer locations. A high police presence and visibility is maintained in all the townships in the Nelson Mandela metro, and police stations have been put on high alert to ensure a quick response and, as far as possible, the immediate arrest of perpetrators.” Mills said residents in the areas told police they had no problem working and living with immigrants, and many had helped them during the attacks. - Sapa