Ethiopian forced to close tuckshop

2011-01-24 00:00

AN ANC leader and tuckshop owners in an informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg are demanding that an Ethiopian national shut down his shop because he is a foreigner.

Thandi Ndlovu, ANC branch secretary in Swapo B informal settlement near Copesville, repeatedly said at a meeting yesterday that only local residents should run businesses in the area.

“You cannot move from another country to open a shop here. It is even worse that he was not introduced to the development committee,” Ndlovu told about 100 residents. He is also secretary of the Ward 29 development committee. The meeting, which lasted more than three hours, was held yesterday after tuckshop owners demanded that Firew Kelebor, from Addis Ababa, close his shop.

Kelebor, who has proof of being in the country legally, built the shop late last month after buying land in resident John Mahe’s yard. He then got written permission from Ward 29 councillor Henry Ngubane to open and operate the small shop. Ndlovu and about 10 tuckshop owners said Ngubane should have consulted the ward committee before allowing Kelebor to build the shop. However, Kelebor’s customers say they will defend his shop with their lives.

On January 11 the tuckshop owners confronted Kelebor and forced him to close down the shop. Late that night, Kelebor reported the matter to Mountain Rise police station.

People said Ethiopians’ shops take business away from locals.

“I know the Ethiopians in Free State province. They are very good at attracting customers. They are definitely using a strong muthi,” one resident said.

Mahe, who said he had been grilled about allowing the shop in his yard, said he has the right to do whatever he wants on his property. “When they came into my house they even manhandled Kelebor’s fellow Ethiopian,” he said.

However, Ngubane put his foot down and said people who continue intimidating Kelebor risk being arrested. “If you do this because this man is an Ethiopian, you are breaching ANC policy and country’s constitution. If you demand that this man closes down his shop all other tuckshops will have to close down.

“We need lots of shops in this area so that our children won’t risk walking long distances and cross streets to buy a bread,” said Ngubane.

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