Police on alert in Hillbrow after 'fake claims' online about violent clashes

25 February 2021 - 15:37 By shonisani tshikalange
The empty streets of Hillbrow in Johannesburg at the beginning of the nationwide lockdown. Six people were arrested after the latest gathering for contravening lockdown regulations. File photo.
The empty streets of Hillbrow in Johannesburg at the beginning of the nationwide lockdown. Six people were arrested after the latest gathering for contravening lockdown regulations. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell / Sunday Times

Gauteng police are on high alert to prevent incidents of violence stemming from “fake and malicious” claims about clashes between people of different nationalities in Hillbrow.

Videos have been circulating on social media claiming there were violent confrontations between Zulus and Zimbabwean nationals. They included footage of crowds of people running in the streets, singing and shooting.

In one video a large group of people can be seen marching on the road, some of them brandishing sticks, shovels, and chairs.

Police cars are visible in another, with sirens blaring as people run.

It is alleged that the gathering or gatherings were in retaliation after four Zimbabwean nationals allegedly robbed and killed a taxi owner from KwaZulu-Natal in January.

The incident allegedly set in motion a revenge attack.

Police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters, however, dismissed claims about violence between the groups.

“We have further noted the resurfacing of an anonymous voice note purporting violence between a group of Zulu people and foreign nationals in Hillbrow, from which a number of people have been killed since January 2021.

“We wish to dispel this voice note and related reports of violence in Hillbrow as fake and malicious news. This clip has actually been in circulation previously in January,” she said.

Peters said the public order police dispersed an illegal gathering and arrested five suspects for contravention of the lockdown regulations. A sixth suspect was arrested for discharging a firearm in a public space in Hillbrow on Wednesday.

Peters said a licensed firearm was seized and the six suspects remained in custody pending a court appearance on Friday.

“It is reported that a group of about 70 people had gathered at the scene, where the family of a security guard who was shot and killed in a previous incident had arrived to perform a cultural ritual. Police were alerted to the gathering and random shots being fired, and on arrival at the scene dispersed the illegal gathering.”

Peters said no injuries or further incidents were reported.

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