They’re taking over our country

2011-05-21 10:36

‘I mean the whole country, not just Ramaphosa (east of Joburg). ­Inside the community, we don’t want them (foreigners),” angry ANC member and Ramaphosa Business Forum public relations officer Johannes Ramaropene ­declares.

He blames foreign ­business owners for his and other local traders’ woes.

“This is the future of our children we’re protecting,” he says, adding that his group’s actions protect the South African ­economy and ­democracy. The ­Ramaphosa Business Forum is aligned to the Greater Gauteng Business Forum (GGBF).

He later contradicts himself, saying foreigners trading in townships should build their own ­“China City” or conduct their businesses “emaflatini” – in areas like Berea, Cleveland and ­Hillbrow, which are populated by “Nigerians”.

Chinese traders operate by ­setting up massive warehouse-type malls on the outskirts of towns and cities, plying a ­wholesale rather than retail trade.

The father of four warns against the return of Somali, Bangladeshi and Ethiopian traders to Ramaphosa, east of Joburg, after the local government elections.

Traders were recently escorted out of Ramaphosa by the police after receiving death threats from the forum.

Ramaphosa, the site of the ­infamous burning of Mozambican ­national Ernesto Nhamuave, experienced the worst xenophobic violence in 2008.

“It’ll be a big fight if they return after the elections,” Ramaropene threatens. Ramaropene, originally from Polokwane, believes that police may have removed foreigners who operated 18 shops across the informal settlement-cum-RDP house township as an electioneering ploy to get them to vote.

“Other (local owned) shops that closed due to the presence of foreigners have now ­reopened,” he says of the exodus after the threats and police action.

The foreign shop owners were escorted out of Ramaphosa two weeks ago in what Reiger Park ­police claim was a safety precaution, and at the foreigners’ ­request.

“I am happy with how things are now because the Somalians (sic) aren’t here. I used to struggle to buy my kids shoes,” he says.

Ramaropene was among the nine GGBF ­members arrested in ­Orlando, Soweto, last week for holding an “illegal gathering”.

It was at this gathering where the GGBF planned to start ­enforcing “seven-day notices” to foreigners to stop trading in ­Gauteng ­townships.

Ramaropene spent the night at police holding cells in Orlando with GGBF chairperson Makhosana Mhlanga, who runs a shop in Soweto. They have since been released on R500 bail each.

Ramaropene insists that ­foreigners are “taking their ­opportunities”.

He asks: “What will we eat ­because we’re unemployed?”

He has been operating his shop at his modest property, on which he rents out rooms and sells nails and ready-made “zozos” (shacks).

This, he says, is his hardware store. “We’re waking up, doing things for ourselves and practising Vuk’uzenzele,” Ramaropene ­explains.

He simply ­describes foreigners as “amaSomali” (Somalis), even though there were Bangladeshis and Ethiopians in Ramaphosa. According to him, “they cause crime”.

Ramaropene’s charge sheet against “amaSomali” include murder, rape, making babies with local women, killing businesses and not employing South ­Africans.

“They’ve approached me a number of times to sell drugs,” he claims.

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