KAMHLUSHWA – A warehouse and supermarket alongside the main road was looted by community members and engulfed in flames on Tuesday.
This was in retaliation to the assault on an employee accused of stealing money.
According to Const Zithulele Mhlongo of Kamhlushwa SAPS, police were summoned to the Patel Hardware and Supermarket complex after community members reported that an employee had been severely assaulted.
When they arrived, the other employees denied any knowledge of an assault. Police investigated further, found the victim and took him to hospital.
According to information given to the police, three employees were accused of stealing money. Two gave back the money, but the third denied that he had stolen any and was allegedly assaulted by management.
A case of assault with the intent of grievous bodily harm was opened.
Community members heard about the incident and stormed the building that evening, looting anything they could get their hands on.
The police were notified of the incident and while they were monitoring it, two employees (both foreign nationals) were spotted setting fire to a part of the building.
They were arrested on a charge of arson and containers with flammable liquid were confiscated.
Frits Koekemoer of Swift EMS and the local Fire Department were summoned to the scene around 02:30 and he said it took hours to contain the fire. The building was still smouldering the next morning.
The supermarket and warehouse were badly damaged.
By Wednesday evening, police were still monitoring the scene as community members, including children, kept up their looting.
Seven community members were arrested for possession of suspected stolen property. They are scheduled to appear in the Nkomazi Magistrate’s Court today.
“The station commander, Capt Mzwandile Nyambi, is very disappointed with the community’s conduct, especially the children, as the looting is something they see from their elders. The community must not take the law into their own hands,” Mhlongo said.
Investigations are continuing and community members with any information that could aid in police should contact the investigating officer, W/O Mduduzi Shongwe on 071-462-2754.