Phiyega's office slams claims police urged looting in Soweto

The City Press has quoted looters & witnesses saying police instructed them to loot foreign-owned shops.

Foreign nationals owning spaza shops grabbed what they could and brought it to this sanctuary in Mayfair, Johannesburg. Foreign spaza shop owners were forced to flee Soweto after they were targeted by residents who looted their shops. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega's office has lashed out at the City Press newspaper over a report that suggests police told Soweto residents to loot foreign-owned shops and participate in the violence.

The newspaper quotes looters and witnesses saying police instructed them to loot and also told the foreigners to 'go back where they come from'.

But Phiyega's spokesperson Solomon Makgale says the newspaper is quoting the very people who are being criminally charged and also doesn't provide any concrete proof of the allegations.

"There is absolutely not proof whatsoever of police ever doing that. I find it interesting that they would choose to interview people that are suspects in the looting and people that have been stopped or arrested by police."

At a press conference last week, Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba confirmed that an officer from the Dobsonville Police Station was criminally charged and faces disciplinary action for his participation.

The officer is captured on a video helping himself to toilet rolls while community members looted a shop in the area.

The looting of foreign-owned shops began in Soweto on Monday when a Somali man allegedly shot dead a 14-year-old boy accused of being part of a group trying to break into his store.

The shop owner has since been arrested and will appear in court soon.

WATCH: Soweto violence continues


Police are investigating a case of murder following the death of a 13-month-old baby boy in Kagiso by a mob of stampeding looters.

The baby is the fourth victim of unrest that erupted in Soweto on Monday and spread to surrounding areas.

It's believed that on Friday the child's mother had him strapped to her chest and was on her way home from a local clinic when she came across a mob that had allegedly robbed a foreign owned shop moments earlier.

The woman was knocked down and her baby was trampled on.

Makgale says, "When the police arrived people ran away and as they were running, it looked like the baby fell and people trampled the baby. We have opened a case of murder, which is being investigated."


Gauteng Premier David Makhura says he stands in solidarity with foreign shop owners following widespread looting in Soweto and other areas outside of the township.

Makhura spoke to immigrants in Mayfair on Saturday. He says everyone who lives in this country legally should be respected.

"You country of origin doesn't matter, as long as you have come into our country lawfully, legally, you live and breathe, you wake up following the laws of our country, we will respect you."

Hundreds of foreign nationals have taken refuge in Mayfair following the Soweto unrest.

WATCH: Foreign nationals flee Soweto