Cabinet security cluster to quell Soweto tensions

President Jacob Zuma has instructed Cabinet's security cluster to bring the situation under control.

Foreign-owned shops were closed on Friday morning after wide spread looting that lasted through Thursday night. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has called on Cabinet's security cluster and provincial leaders to work together to restore normalcy after this week's violence in and around Soweto.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura will meet police, religious leaders and community members in the area today after two people were killed and more than 120 others were arrested following days of violence.

The unrest began on Monday night after a 14-year-old boy accused of trying to rob a shop in Doornkop was shot, allegedly by a foreign business owner.

The arrested will appear in court today.

Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj says, "The president has instructed the security cluster in Cabinet as well as the provincial and local leadership in Gauteng and Limpopo to work together to bring the situation under control."

Police are due to give the nation another date about the situation later today.

Overnight Soweto was relatively calm.

Earlier, Gauteng Police Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba assured South Africans that police were in control and not being overwhelmed.

He said they were searching for the instigators of the looting and would be monitoring schools closely this afternoon.

Yesterday, violence flared up after school bells rang.

The suburbs around the Moroka Police Station are now quiet and shops remain closed.

With more than 120 people now in custody over ongoing attacks and looting in Soweto and beyond, police say they're not overwhelmed by the situation and are determined to stop further violence.


Mothiba briefed media in Soweto earlier this morning after this week's looting in areas including White City and Meadowlands where police had to disperse crowds with rubber bullets.

Mothiba says police are not in over their heads.

"The police are not being overwhelmed. Last night we reported that we called in reinforcements from all over the province. The public must understand the type of situation we are dealing with."

But the commissioner has urged officers to keep their cool.

"Of particular importance is that we don't want our members to use their firearms unnecessarily. We're having our members trained in public order policing and it's only them who will be in a position to deal with issues of public disorder."

Mothiba says the looting is not organised and is nothing more than groups of criminals picking targets and attacking them.

But at the same time, the commissioner says crime intelligence is being used to find those who are instigating these acts.

Mothiba was forced to defend his officers against reports that some took part in the looting or failed to intervene to stop it.

He says strong action will be taken against those found to have been involved.

The police's deployment plan for today factors in the possibility of school children joining the looting.

A police officer is also facing criminal charges and disciplinary action for allegedly taking part in the looting of shops in Soweto.

The officer was captured on video helping himself to a toilet roll from a foreign owned shop which was being looted in Dobsonville.

Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane says police are dealing with the matter.

"The disciplinary processes are being followed and he is definitely going to be formally charged."

Makhura says he will spend the day in Soweto to assess the situation.

It's calm in the Johannesburg township but police have saturated the area to quell any potential violence.

Makhura has joined religious and community leaders in trying to calm further tensions.

"We condemn in strongest terms the looting that has taken place in Soweto and I want to emphasise that I had extensive discussions with police it has been looting of the goods."