Friday, January 13, 2012

Battlefield Joburg: traders targetted

Battlefield Joburg: traders targetted
January 13 2012 at 11:45am


IN CHARGE: A large crowd scatter after police threw a stun grenade into a group of onlookers after foreign traders shops were raided in central Joburg and surrounding areas by the police and military. The fire brigade broke open some shops using angle grinders and crowbars. Pictures: Adrian de Kock

Yusuf Omar

A TAXI driver was dragged into a puddle and ordered to swim because he laughed at a police officer. A woman was pepper-sprayed and beaten with a stick because she wanted to close her shop. And a human rights worker had his phone confiscated and was arrested for taking photographs of a soldier beating a shopkeeper with the butt of his R4 assault rifle.

Parts of Joburg resembled a war zone yesterday as the SA National Defence Force, the SAPS Tactical Response Team and customs officials took part in Operation Festive Season for a second day.

Two army Rooikat trucks stood at both ends of Delvers Street as officers focused their efforts on counterfeit clothing, and shopowners looked on helplessly as their stores were raided and their goods confiscated.

At 10am, a group of taxi drivers standing at a street corner in Jeppe Street were ordered to lie on their bellies and were body-searched.

One snickered under his breath.

GO: Soldiers disperse a crowd after police and the SANDF raided foreign traders shops in Jeppe Street yesterday.

“Are you laughing at me? Go for a swim,” shouted a police officer before dragging the driver into a puddle of muddy water on the pavement.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” said the taxi driver, dusting off his clothes, too afraid to be named.

Police officers sprayed pepper at curious bystanders, some at close range.

Shops that had closed their shutters received extra attention from the police and army. Using crowbars, they smashed the padlock to open the stores.

Eventually, the fire brigade was called to assist with its Jaws of Life and angle grinder machinery, sending sparks shooting across the pavements.

Around noon, the police used stun grenades to disperse the crowd that had gathered to watch the operation. The explosions echoed through the buildings, sending people running down Bree Street, some leaving their shoes and sandals behind.

A man in crutches couldn’t scurry away fast enough to escape the blast.

“We are living in another apartheid,” screamed a woman as she ran.

“I don’t know why the government are deploying these animals,” said Ethiopian shopowner Tadesse Yemena as he fled. “Stand on the street and you are going to get the beating of your life.”


Joburg operation nets R7m worth of fake goods
Sapa | 13 January, 2012 14:31

Counterfeit goods with an estimated street value of R7 million have been seized in an operation in downtown Johannesburg, the SA Revenue Services (SARS) said on Friday.
Gauteng police arrest 29, pirated goods seized The goods were confiscated from shops and vendors in several streets of the city on Thursday, SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay said. "I cannot reveal the types and brands of the seized goods at this stage," he said.

The operation, dubbed Operation Festive Season, was a joint exercise by the SA Police Service, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), Johannesburg Metro Police, SARS and customs officials.

Gauteng provincial police spokesman Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said police and army members searched people and raided shops.

"The aim of involving the SANDF was to assist the police in combating the trade of counterfeit goods," he said.

No arrests were made.

The operation started late last year.

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