Mayor moves to stop looting in Soweto
The City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Councillor Parks Tau applauded the bravery and efforts of community leaders who took the lead to restore calm following the looting and violence that erupted in Soweto this week.
Mayor Tau, accompanied by senior government officials who included Premier David Makhura, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, as well as the ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, visited several parts of Soweto affected by the unrest.
The leadership joined Mayor Tau in calling for calm and condemning the looting of shops and violence against shop owners, especially foreign shop owners.
"We as the leadership did not decide to go to Soweto because we wanted to be heroes, but to support those community leaders who took it upon themselves to attempt to restore order before we even arrived," Mayor Tau says.
The unrest in several areas of Soweto followed the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy, allegedly by a foreign national shop owner who accused him of being part of a group that had looted his shop. Working with community leaders, law enforcement agencies moved swiftly to halt the violence and arrested more than 100 people, including the shop owner who shot the teenager. Those arrested face charges ranging from murder and attempted murder to public violence, theft and illegal possession of a firearm.
"A young life was lost during the Soweto violence because of an illegal firearm. Had this not been the case, community leaders would have resolved the initial problem easily. It is important for communities to work together with government - particularly the law enforcement agencies - to build safe environments for our children and other vulnerable groups in our society," Mayor Tau said.
"The looting and violence that erupted in Soweto was not a result of xenophobia. It was a result of pure criminality because the attackers targeted vulnerable groups of our communities, who were not only foreign nationals, but locals too," he added.
Parts of Soweto visited by government leaders were Diepkloof, White City, Protea Glen and Doornkop where community members shared their recent experiences and appealed for interventions to promote tolerance and social cohesion. They also appealed for job creation programmes to curb unemployment and poverty.
In response, Mayor Tau reiterated that the City had introduced Jozi@Work - a Johannesburg programme to contract cooperatives and other community based enterprises to provide City services, including grass cutting, fixing street lights and clearing illegal dump sites in their neighbourhoods.