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SA frees Ethiopians after mass arrest

South African police have freed some of the 150 Ethiopians arrested in connection with illegal business dealings including counterfeit products in Johannesburg last week, the Ethiopian Embassy in Pretoria confirmed on Wednesday.Properties of Ethiopian businesses were reportedly looted and women of Ethiopian descent were beaten after South African police launched what they called a campaign on “illegal businesses” and counterfeit products.

Policemen from five or six divisions embarked on a mass arrest targeting people of Ethiopia descent. 

“Whether you show them residence permit or migrant paper, they say ‘no’ and take you to prison,” a resident in Johannesburg told APA in Addis Ababa by phone. 

He also put the figure of Ethiopians arrested during the crackdown much higher, at 600.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week reported the detention of 150 Ethiopians by South African police in connection with illegal business dealings.

However, those who have licenses and residency documents were freed after intervention by the heads of the Ethiopian association and the business community, the embassy said in a statement.

The embassy further indicated that it will continue to monitor the situation of those who continue to be detained in South Africa since the crackdown began.

Ethiopia’s Police ministry claimed as many as 1500 South African policemen are deployed for the operations.

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