Police Minister Bheki Cele says it is the police’s responsibility to protect everyone in the country, including foreign nationals who may be in South Africa illegally.

Cele was reacting to the incidents of looting foreign owned spaza shops in Soweto on Wednesday night. He says the rule of law must be observed.

“It doesn’t matter whatever the reasons they had. But as South African Police, we will find those people that attacked. Some of these people are legally in the country. We will have to protect those people.

“It’s the job of the South African government to protect all people that are in South Africa. Even those that are not legal. We need to follow laws. We can’t just act as if they are animals,” adds Cele.

A number of shops were looted in places such as Dobsonville, Rockville, Zola, Meadowlands, Ennerdale and Protea Glen.

Shop owners have since fled to places of safety.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has condemned the looting in Soweto. He urges Gauteng residents not to allow criminals to commit crime in their name.

The Premier’s spokesperson, Vuyo Mhaga says, “Let’s separate the difference between people who are doing xenophobia and people who are actually doing criminality. Criminality must be fought, whoever does it, wherever that person comes from and we are quite happy that the police have actually stand the authority and brought calm and the fact that the MEC of Economic Development was on the ground where the people could get more information on it.”