By Bongani Siziba
At least six hundred foreign nationals were arrested this week as Johannesburg police fought back during a dramatic week of clashes between traders and authorities.
The arrests happened during lock-down operations in central Johannesburg, where firearms and counterfeit products were seized, buildings raided, and municipal by-laws enforced.
“So far over 600 undocumented foreigners have been taken in for verification of status in the country and criminal record,”. tweeted Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
“Six rifles, six pistols, four shot guns and hundreds of various ammunition were recovered. Also large consignments of counterfeits goods found in the buildings.”
The raids come a week after police were forced to retreat after they were attacked by illegal traders in retaliation to a crackdown on the sale of counterfeits.
Speaking at the scene Gauteng Commissioner Elias Mawela said: “Its a multi-disciplinary intergrated operation whereby we have mobilised the law enforcement agencies in the province. The planning and implementation has taken a few weeks to pout into action,” Commissioner Mawela said.
The operation was joined by Police Minister Bheki Cele.
“We are saying that there is no parallel government here and we are saying that no country can be run by criminals, and as the elected government we are saying that this is wrong,” Minister Cele said.
Shop owners who watched from a distance said traders had retaliated to the abuse they faced over time.
By Thursday seven policemen had been arrested for trying to resell confiscated counterfeit goods.
Gauteng spokesperson Mathapelo Peters said: “We were quite disappointed yesterday, however we commend those members who made it their business to make sure these policemen are arrested and face the music,” Petros said.
Pictures: Bongani Siziba
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