Police vow to prosecute buyers of looted goods from civil unrest in South Africa

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By Henry Okonkwo

The South African Police Service has warned members of the public to desist from buying goods looted from businesses during the rioting last week, as possession of these items would land the buyers in jail.

Hundreds of shops and warehouses were looted during several days of rioting in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

The civil unrest was triggered by the jailing of former President, Jacob Zuma.

SAPS national head of communication, Major General Mathapelo Peters, said, “A warning has been issued to those who were not part of the looting spree but are buying stolen property from the looters, they too, will be arrested for having stolen property.”

She said wide-scale law enforcement operations are underway to track down people who have the stolen goods in their homes.

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According to Peters, in Gauteng during integrated operations at several hostels in Tembisa, Johannesburg, Alexandra and Moroka over the weekend, 14 suspects were arrested for being in possession of suspected looted property.

“Amongst the goods recovered were bed mattresses; television sets; couches; fridges, sound systems; computer screens and laptops; steel frames; grocery, and clothing items,” she added.

Meanwhile, in KwaZulu-Natal 92 suspects have been arrested over the weekend for being in possession of stolen property.

Peters said a total of 3407 suspects had been arrested on various charges since the violence erupted over a week ago, with only one suspect granted bail

At least 1122 of the arrested people are expected to appear in different courts in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal courts, while the remaining are under investigation.

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