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Police 'forced' to retaliate in Mbizana

Violence erupted in Mbizana when dozens of community members stormed a truck that had stalled.

FILE: Mbizana in the Eastern Cape. Picture: Mbizana Local Municipality.

CAPE TOWN - Eastern Cape police have defended the actions of officers who have killed two people and injured 10 during a riot in the Mbizana Local Municipality near Transkei.

Violence erupted in Mbizana yesterday when dozens of community members stormed a truck that had stalled on the main road.

The truck carrying rice, sugar and other goods stalled along the R61.

Locals looted goods including bags of sugar and maze meal.

Authorities say a stand-off ensued when police were called as people were determined to steal all goods on the truck.

It's understood one person died at a clinic nearby while the other died in hospital.

Officials say residents became agitated when a bakkie arrived to collect the goods.

Authorities haveconfirmed that shotguns with live ammunition were used.

Police spokesperson Marinda Mills says, "I cannot really speculate on the merits of the case and what will be the consequences. The matter is now in the hands of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate."

She says police were forced to make a split-second decision regarding the safety of themselves and the members of the public."

Police say officers opened fire after residents started hurling rocks at them and threatened to kill the owner of the truck.

Mills says officers were forced to retaliate.

"They did the best that they could at that time."

A local ward councillor has addressed furious residents at a community meeting in the area.