Police have vowed to continue clamping down on illegal trading in the Johannesburg CBD despite Thursday’s violent attack on them by a group of people.

Police vehicles were pelted with stones as they tried to evict illegal vendors from a congested area in town.

Street vendors in the Johannesburg CBD have accused the police of terrorising them, while conducting raids to seize counterfeit goods.

In a video that has been circulating on social media, a police nyala is seen reversing from the scene as rocks are hurled at the vehicle, before driving away. Four police vehicles were damaged.

Police spokesperson, Kay Makhubele, says those who were responsible for the attack will face the full might of the law.

“We are investigating a case of public violence. So far, we want to urge the community members there that police will not stop to do their work. We will continue and make sure that those who are responsible are arrested. We are going to make sure we enforce the law.”

Criminal activity

The City of Johannesburg says it will not tolerate unnecessary violent protests. City of Johannesburg MMC for Public Safety Michael Sun, says they don’t condone criminal activity and criminals posing as protesters.

“The operation turned bad. The violence sparked up and the Metro police had to back up SAPS to ensure that they contain the situation. This is not the first time. Every time the police carried out the operation targeting counterfeit goods, these traders would come up in numbers. Rocks, bricks and other objects would be thrown at the police. We certainly don’t tolerate this criminality. People must be arrested and face the full might of the law.”

ANC condemns acts of lawlessness

The ANC Caucus in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature has called on Premier, David Makhura and Community Safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko to act against increasing criminality in the Johannesburg CBD.

ANC Gauteng Caucus Spokesperson, Lesego Makhubela says, “As the ANC, we regard this brutality faced by our law enforcement officers who were stoned, petrol-bombed and beaten up by foreign nationals as an attack on our sovereignty and on our way of life as South Africans.

“We cannot surrender our sovereignty to criminal elements. We have called for the Premier, the MEC of Community Safety, the Commissioner of Police in Gauteng to then begin to work together to ensure that they put an end to this before it spirals out of control,” Makhubela adds.

‘Soft target’ 

Meanwhile, the African Council of Hawkers and informal businesses (Achib) also condemns the brutality against Hawkers by the Johannesburg metro police and SAPS.

Achib says, “They are always abused and harassed just because they are the soft target,” adding that “The excuse used by police of looking for fake goods and illegal things is far from the truth.”