South Africa raids township for looted goods

A lively piece of radio came to a screeching halt as a line of armed police officers marched through a Johannesburg township on Tuesday morning, searching for stolen property nearly two weeks after the riots and widespread looting ended.



a man looks at the camera: confiscated: cases of beer join other suspected stolen goods that the police carry away from the hostel


© MARCO LONGARI
Confiscated: cases of beer join other suspected stolen goods that police carry away from hostel



man sitting in room: police walk through a house in Nguni hostels on the outskirts of Johannesburg in Vosloorus, looking for looted goods from a nearby shopping center


© MARCO LONGARI
Police walk through a house in Nguni hostels in the Johannesburg suburb of Vosloorus, looking for looted goods from a nearby shopping center

Putting on blue plastic gloves, they rolled out through rows of identical concrete houses where most residents still slept under corrugated iron roofs, window frames filled with cardboard to keep drafts out. winter.



a car parked in front of a building: a soldier patrols while the police search hostels


© MARCO LONGARI
Soldier patrols as police search hostels

Closed faces stared through the doors at the group of uniformed officers and soldiers deployed to help quell the unrest.

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The atmosphere was resigned and calm, with few signs of resistance, observed an AFP journalist.

Nguni Hostels, a dilapidated housing hub in the south-eastern suburb of Johannesburg, is just a few kilometers (a few miles) from a shopping mall ransacked by looters earlier this month.

Protests that erupted after former South African President Jacob Zuma was jailed on July 8 escalated into chaos, with violent unrest and looting in parts of the country.

Raids aren’t unusual in hostels – dormitory blocks built for black migrant workers during apartheid but now inhabited by poor city dwellers and sometimes criminal gangs.

But this time, the police were on one of many missions to recover the looted goods, looking for suspicious-looking items without proof of purchase.

The operation began shortly before 9 a.m., with armed soldiers deployed outside. Sometimes the police knocked on the door of houses, but in other cases, they just entered.



a man and a woman standing in a room: a resident watches the police search his home


© MARCO LONGARI
Resident watches police search her home

A woman in a lilac and white polka-dot dressing gown stood by a gas stove, hands in pockets as officers in bulletproof vests walked past a communal kitchen table and down a narrow hallway lined with doors.

They entered a still misty room with the smell of sleep, opening the pots and cupboards of another resigned-looking resident, sitting in bed with a blanket rolled up over her legs.



a man standing in front of a refrigerator: A woman is questioned about the contents of her refrigerator.  Food, more than electronics, accounted for most of the items confiscated on Tuesday


© MARCO LONGARI
A woman is questioned about the contents of her refrigerator. Food, more than electronics, accounted for most of the items confiscated on Tuesday

Nearby, police officers in plastic aprons lifted mattresses and looked under a bed, where they found and confiscated two pairs of sneakers.

– Rice and soap –

The seized goods were taken outside and crammed into the backs of white pickup trucks.

The spoils consisted mainly of food and household items. Big bags of rice and flour, boxes of eggs, cooking oil, clothes and bars of soap outnumbered electronics.

“This is something that has never happened, removing things like that,” muttered a policeman who did not wish to be named.

He admitted that he did not know what would happen to the goods once delivered to the police station. After confiscating the property, the police took no further action against those who held it.

Cries suddenly erupted from one of the houses.

Police had discovered more than two dozen cases of stolen beer bottles, upset an intoxicated elderly woman wearing a red woolen cap who presumably intended to sell them.

” Why ? Why ? she asked men, dragging the boxes before tripping over her cane and falling to the ground.

A man helped her up and gently put her to the side.

The search continued late in the morning in relative calm.

No one protested when police sometimes cut padlocks or smashed doors, raising clouds of dust.

Curious spectators gathered outside to watch the operations.

A local merchant walked out of his store with a look of relief as the police left the area empty-handed.

He smiled victoriously and showed a crumpled receipt.

sch / sn / ri

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About John McTaggart

John McTaggart

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