Rustenburg bottle store looted in violent court protest

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Rustenburg – A bottle store was looted in Rustenburg in the North West on Friday when protesters went on the rampage blocking streets and threatened to set alight the local magistrate’s court building.

North West police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh said a case of house robbery was opened after a protester gained entry forcefully and took liquor.

A group of over 5 000 people took to the streets demanding that 14 Nigerian men, accused of public violence, should not be granted bail. The protesters chanted outside the court, some blowing vuvuzelas, while others wielded sticks and later threatened to to burn the court building, forcing an early end to court proceedings.

The protesters wanted the Nigerian nationals to be sent to their home country.

A large number of police were deployed to restore order, and at one stage was forced to fire rubber bullets and smoke grenades to disperse the crowd in Nelson Mandela Drive, and Fatima Bhayat and Klopper streets.

The police managed to drive the crowd towards the taxi rank, where some of the protestors regrouped and began to hurl stones at police.

The situation was calm on Friday night.

The bail hearing of the 14 men was postponed to February 13 for further hearing.

The were arrested on January 21 after they allegedly blocked access to the Rustenburg police station. They had gone to the police station, complaining that they were being attacked and the police was not helping them.

On January 10, taxi drivers had spearheaded a “raid” on suspected brothels and drug dens, this after taxi driver Lebogang Motlhabane was allegedly kidnapped by nyaope drug addicts and stabbed in December.

He went missing on December 15 and was found stabbed and tied up in the bush near Meriting on December 27. He was taken to hospital but died on January 3.

Taxi operators accused Nigerian nationals of selling drugs that led to addicts robbing people and killing them for money. Taxi drivers went on the rampage, claiming to clean Rustenburg of drugs and prostitution. Eight guest houses, suspected of operating as brothels and drug houses, were torched.

On January 21, some Nigerian men allegedly assaulted people and robbed them in Rustenburg Noord and damaged three cars in Waterval, in what was suspected to be a revenge attack.

African News Agency/ANA