Limpopo foreign traders fear more looting

2014-01-31 16:56

Foreign shop owners trading in Relela and Kubjana outside Tzaneen in Limpopo feared that protesters who looted their shops would return to help themselves to the rest of their stock.

Some shops were looted yesterday amid protests by residents who were demanding the arrest of people who brutally killed a 20-year-old woman last week.

Shop owners had moved to the outskirts of the village with some of their stock packed in their cars.

The murdered woman had her hand removed and her cellphone and house keys were placed inside her stomach, which had been ripped open.

Two people were taken in for questioning, but were later released.

Life in the two villages came to a standstill today and some schools were closed. Satellite police stations were unable to operate and taxi routes were disrupted.

Residents of Kubjana yesterday torched the house of a businessman suspected of kidnapping a three-year-old boy.

The boy was found dead in the man’s car. Two other children were found unharmed in his vehicle.

Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said the boy’s body was discovered on Wednesday evening after the car’s owner called the police.

“The three had locked themselves in the car while playing for hours and they were found by the owner when he got back from work,” said Ngoepe.

Three people have died during the protests in the area.

The first of the three villagers to die was Tshepo Baloyi (15), who was killed on Saturday morning.

On Tuesday, Clearance Molele and Stanley Selowa died after being shot, allegedly by police officers.

Selowa’s wife Dikeledi said her husband had died while on his way to an Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) meeting, where he hope to see the party’s leader, Julius Malema.

“He didn’t even care about what the villagers were protesting about. All he wanted was to meet Malema for the first time in his life, but he didn’t know that would be his last day,” said Dikeledi.

The EFF said it was saddened by the news of Selowa’s death.

“The EFF sends its heartfelt revolutionary condolences to all who lost their loved ones on the picket lines that day, and in particular to the family of Stanley Selowa who attended with the sole purpose to see the commander in chief,” the party said.

Malema is scheduled to visit the Selowa family on Monday.

Scores of police officers have been injured in the unrest, and police vehicles and property have been damaged.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) president Kenneth Meshoe today condemned the violence, saying that police and protester clashes had become a regular occurrence.

“It is like South Africa has become a war zone between the police and citizens. The ACDP firmly believes that where respect is given, respect is earned,” said Meshoe.

“Unfortunately, our police service, while it has many fine officers, has not earned the respect of South African citizens.”

Meshoe said incidents such as the Marikana “massacre” and the Mothutlung service-delivery protest shootings led to the distrust of the police.

The Human Rights Institute of SA said it was deeply concerned that some civilians were killed while exercising their constitutional rights to express their frustration with the government.

Spokesperson Sipho Mantula said 1 200 protests a month since 2008 could be attributed to negative feelings that the advent of democracy had not delivered basic rights and needs as promised.

He called on Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and police commissioner Riah Phiyega to protect civilians from further killings.

“The minister and national commissioner must prioritise a human rights approach [to] training for police to enable them to have a better understanding ... of civilians in demonstrations.”

He called for better service delivery, the rooting out of corruption, and for crime, poverty and the high unemployment rate to be addressed.

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