Police minister extremely concerned about Soweto violence

Reports say two people have been killed and 80 others arrested following widespread looting and protests.

FILE: Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko. Picture: Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko says he is extremely worried about the violence currently unfolding in Soweto and other parts of the province, saying his ministry is closely monitoring developments.

Nhleko has called on local leaders to intervene immediately.

"We are calling on the community's leadership to adequately find a way to attend the grievances at hand in such a manner that there is a process."

The violence broke after a 14-year-old teenager was gunned down by a shop owner on Monday, the boy was accused of robbing a shop.

Reports say two people have been killed and 80 others arrested following widespread looting and protests.

South African Police Service has confirm that looting of foreign owned shops is taking place in Sharpeville in the south and Kagiso in the west.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba says intelligence officials will have a meeting tonight to discuss their plan of action for the whole of Gauteng.

He adds that additional law enforcement has been called in from all across the province to cover all parts of Soweto.

The violence has been described as pure criminality by the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and not xenophobia.

In tune with the MEC's words, Mothiba also says the situation is not violent.

"Here is large scale looting. We have called on additional man power. The people are not violent, all they are doing is just looting and this is not good for us as a country."

At the same time the Gauteng community safety MEC says the attacks are clearly aimed at foreigners.

"Next to the shops of the foreigners are South African shops. I'm standing in front of one shop and a market, nothing is happening to them. So we can see there is a targeted approach to loot the shops [run by] foreigners."

The Congress of South African Trade Unions' Zwelinzima Vavi says he is shocked by the commissioner's assessment.

"How does that explain what we are seeing on television? I don't know where the commissioner lives or which planet he is speaking from."

Some people say police are not coping with diffusing the situation and more force is needed.

"They just called the tactical response team."

Another argues, "Must the whole thing be levelled to the ground? Surely the police can't cope and the army should step in."

Police have called an urgent briefing in Soweto this hour amid widespread looting, violence and running battles with more officers being sent to the township this evening.

Officers have been escorting frightened foreign shop-owners out of Soweto while parents are calling on their children to stay at home.

Earlier, a woman in Rockville was also injured when she was run over by a speeding car, apparently driven by angry looters.

An Eyewitness News reporter was rushed to hospital this afternoon after being struck on the head with a rock during a violent clash between residents, police and foreign shop owners in Meadowlands.

A young man told Eyewitness News that the spirit of Ubuntu is what has brought him and hundreds of his peers out today in protest.

"What if something happened to my child. All of us stand together."

Dozens of people could be heard cheering as foreign nationals were being moved out of the township by police.

Young children were told to leave by the authorities but many of them chanted, "We are not going home to do our homework, our homework is what's happening here."