Two shot dead by police over sugar and rice looting in Eastern Cape
Two people were killed and 11 others were wounded by police when they "violently" tried to steal food from a truck in Bizana, Eastern Cape police said on Wednesday.
"Two members of the community were fatally wounded by members of the SA Police Service in Mbizana, while trying to bring a violent mob under control," said Brigadier Marinda Mills.
Mhlophe Cele, 34, and Silindile Ndzimakhwe, 19, died in the incident on Tuesday.
A truck transporting sugar and rice got stuck on a steep incline on Tuesday morning.
The driver then reversed the vehicle to the side of the road to prevent a traffic jam.
"This caused some of the goods to fall off the back of the truck and community members came and helped themselves with the fallen truck load," said Mills.
Police were then called to the scene and managed to stop people from looting the goods off the truck.
However, community members became "volatile" when the manager of the truck company arrived at the scene and started to recover the goods which had fallen from the truck.
"This seemed to have agitated members of the community and those standing close by became angry because they did not want the goods to be loaded back onto the truck or taken away by the manager," said Mills.
"Members of the public became violent and grabbed the manager, threatening to kill him as they forcefully pulled him."
However, when police intervened and freed the manager from the group's grasp, they started throwing stones.
"The group became increasingly more aggressive and started pelting the manager and the police members with stones while advancing again towards the direction of the truck and its load," said Mills.
"The police members fired warning shots but it seemed not to have the desired impact to scare the mob away."
Police then opened fire. Eleven other people were injured and were taken to the Bizana Hospital in the Mbizana area.
Nine of them have been discharged, while the other two were transferred to the Mthatha Hospital in Mthatha.
A police officer and the manager of the truck company also sustained slight injuries during the incident.
Mills denied allegations that police were involved in looting the goods off the truck.
"The members indicated that they were trying to assist the manager of the trucking company to salvage some of the goods."
She said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate was investigating the incident.