Police maintain heavy presence in Bekkersdal

At least three shops were looted and eight people arrested in the township on Friday.

A group of protesters forced open the security gate at this spaza shop in Bekkersdal. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Police were maintaining a heavy presence in Bekkersdal on Friday night, where protesters have dispersed after shops were looted this afternoon.

Small groups of youths started blocking roads and burning tyres after a failed march to the Westonaria Municipal offices this morning.

Eight people were arrested and reinforcements called in.

The police said they would remain vigilant over night to ensure that normality returns to the township.

Spokesperson Katlego Mogale said they would continue to monitor the situation.

"Throughout the night the members of policing order unit will be monitoring the situation because currently it's quiet yet tense."

The resident association's Paseka Ndevu said they'd issued an ultimatum to a forensic report into alleged misspending to be released.

"This municipality must be placed under administration. We will make this province ungovernable."

The roads remain blocked and patrolled by police nyalas.

#Bekkersdal Youths are returning to the shop that was looted first, looking for anything left behind by the owner. GW pic.twitter.com/5sfJgRFA9P

Earlier on Friday police continued to halt looting in Bekkersdal amid violent protests, with a number of shop owners taking their possessions with them.

At least three shops were looted, eight people arrested and significant damage was done to the local municipal office since protests started this morning.

A Bangladeshi shop owner told Eyewitness News his life seemed worthless in the West Rand township.

#Bekkersdal The local municipal office has been flooded and vandalized. Water is spraying from the bathroom pic.twitter.com/bUagfQRGOA

Zahirul Islam, one of three shop owners, had nearly all their stock stolen by protesting youths.

He said he lost tens of thousands of rands in stock and was now convinced South Africa was only safe for its own citizens.

"South Africa is a free country. The people can do whatever they like with us, we are from outside, we are nothing."

Islam's shop was the first to be targeted today and he said when his brother owned it two-years-ago, it was also looted during protests.

"He also took his things and ran away, and I bought and ran the shop. They took all my stuff, plus or minus R18,000 worth or stuff. All my groceries, cold drinks and cigarettes."

Meanwhile, police had been helping foreign shop owners in the area to move the remainder of their goods out of the township, as the rain offers a temporary reprieve from protests.

Residents want the municipality to be placed under administration.

They also want a forensic auditor's report into alleged financial misconduct to be released.