‘Chinese prices are too low’

2009-12-31 00:00

CHINESE businessmen operating in the Mafakatini area in Elandskop came under severe strain yesterday as local traders demonstrated outside their shop and demanded that they move out of the area.

At about 1 am yesterday, local traders gathered outside the Mafakatini shopping centre, burning tyres, barricading the entrance with concrete blocks and carrying placards demanding that the Chinese people who began operating a grocery shop there last month must move because they are allegedly putting them out of business.

The locals claim that the Chinese are selling their groceries at uncompetitively low prices and forcing them out of business.

By mid-morning yesterday, at least six police cars were parked near the shopping centre to prevent violent acts.

The owner of the centre, Mduduzi Manqele, said he was surprised that people who claim they are traders can be put out of business by one month’s competition.

“When we recruited the Chinese businessmen we were looking for good prices for the community, and if they are selling items at cheaper rates, that can only be good for the customers.”

He said he had heard that there were grumblings among some traders in the area.

“Although they have never confronted me, I heard they were talking among themselves that they were not happy about the Chinese people operating in the area.”

One of the affected Chinese businessmen, who would only give his name as Gao J, said he and his compatriots will continue operating in the area because the quick response from the police assured them of their safety.

iNkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi, who is the chief in the area, expressed his disappointment at the situation, saying as a community leader, he strives to do the best for his people.

“These people are complaining that the Chinese are cheap; that is what we want for our people, good products at good prices.”

He said he will work tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice.

Police spokewoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said no charges have been laid. Police are monitoring the situation and regular patrols in the area will be carried out, she added.

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