Johannesburg Metro Police. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD
Johannesburg Metro Police. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD

Parliament and the ANC have condemned this week's attacks on police officers allegedly committed by informal street traders, labelling them an assault on the state.

Police in Johannesburg came under attack from rock-throwing rioters on Thursday while conducting raids and confiscating counterfeit goods in the CBD, largely occupied by migrant workers.

Police used rubber bullets to try to disperse the crowd but videos circulating on social media show the officers being chased down the street by a mob hurling rocks at them and their armoured personnel carrier, forcing them to retreat.

Watch protesters pelt Johannesburg police 

A riot broke out in Jo’burg CBD when police confiscated counterfeit goods from street vendors. Officers fired rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowd. In retaliation, protestors pelted officers with bricks and bottles. Provincial police say officers ‘tactically withdrew’ from the operation to avoid being forced to use live ammunition. Subscribe to MultimediaLIVE here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimesLive

“The actions of stone throwing and attacks aimed at members of the SA Police Service by informal traders … is an assault on the citizens of SA living in the city,” ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.

“The attack on our law-enforcement officers is an attack on our state and sovereignty, and must never go unpunished,” Mabe said.

Parliament's portfolio committee on police denounced the “worrying acts of lawlessness”.

“It is unacceptable that … police services were stopped from doing their work as mandated by the law,” committee head Tina Joemat-Pettersson said.

The provincial arm of the ANC suggested some foreigners were involved in the “brazen” attacks, which it labelled as an “act of extreme provocation” posing a security threat to South Africans and other nationalities who are in the country legally.

Sixty-two people were killed in a wave of xenophobic violence in 2008, and at least seven in another outburst in 2015.

No serious injuries were reported and no arrests have been made after Thursday's attacks on the police.

AFP