Protests in numbers: arrests, violence and deaths

05 September 2019 - 17:06 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Over the past week violence, looting and major protest action have stunned the nation.
Over the past week violence, looting and major protest action have stunned the nation.
Image: Mike Holmes

Over the past seven days, parts of South Africa’s major cities have come to a standstill as crowds have looted shops and businesses, and widespread public violence has claimed five lives.

Here is what you need to know:


Since last week, rioters have been looting shops and torching trucks driven by foreign nationals in various parts of South Africa.

TimesLIVE reported that dozens of burnt-out cars littered Jules Street in Jeppestown, and areas including Hillbrow, Johannesburg's CBD, Katlehong and Alexandra have also experienced lawlessness, largely directed at foreigners.

Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to stop the looting.

Listen | What Police Minister General Bheki Cele plans to do about violent looting in Gauteng


Police confirmed that five people have been killed in the unrest since Sunday.

Two of the five fatalities were South Africans, who were shot in Coronationville on Tuesday afternoon. The other victims were not identified. Two were killed in Hillbrow and one near Jeppe hostel.

Spokesperson Col Lungelo Dlamini said the five deaths have led to police deploying more police officers in areas identified as hot spots.

“Police have increased deployments to cover all the areas identified as violence hot spots where shops have been looted, business premises burned and properties looted,” said Dlamini.


Police say 189 people have been arrested as police and residents in parts of the province clashed.

TimesLIVE reported that those arrested are facing a raft of charges, ranging from public violence, malicious damage to property, theft and business break-ins.

Dlamini said police were keeping an eye on opportunistic “gangs of criminals” who were looking to take advantage of the situation by breaking into businesses. He said the spate of violent incidents led to criminals taking advantage of the chaotic situation and breaking into businesses, and not only those belonging to foreign nationals. 

“In the meantime, police are identifying the leaders of these violent groups and will be making arrests once the investigations are finalised,” he said.

Since August 28 2019, Gauteng’s streets have become the scene of widespread protests, looting and violence. In the space of a week, many streets have become like a war-zone.