Tensions for shop owners remain in JHB CBD

By Drum Digital
15 April 2015

Shop owners in the area still do not feel safe despite having opened their doors for business again

Shop owners around the Johannesburg Central Business District closed their stores following messages that their shops will be looted and them violently attacked.

Tensions are still high as owners fear that the surge of violence that took place in Durban will also spread to Joburg. "I don't feel good about this," said Mohammed*, a sneaker shop owner around Carlton Centre.  

"A friend of mine from Durban was attacked and now he is in ICU. I fear that the same might just happen to me," the Senegalese told DRUM.

Denise Eze, a 36-year-old Nigerian DVD and bookstore owner said he would be ready to defend himself if the situation escalated to the point of direct attack.

"I will keep my shop open and close it if danger is near but I am willing to defend myself. If I have to carry a knife or a weapon, then I will," he says.

Employees at the stores owned by foreigners were generally unhappy about the threats in violence against those who provide their means of livelihood.

"I feel bad, these are our people," begins Pamela* who is employed by Mohammed.

"I had to run into a random shop this morning because during the attacks they could not distinguish who was South African and who was not so I was afraid that they would just beat me too. So we are not safe," the 27-year-old reveals.

On the other hand, some South African vendors are of the view that foreigners should not be in South Africa.

"They take our job opportunities and treat us like this is their country. I don't want to see them here," says Gugu Mbatha who lives in President Park in the CBD.

Mbatha's sister, Nosipho, who sells grilled meat as a street vendor agrees with her younger sister.

"Business is not good. You'll sell your food for R30 and they come and sell it for R15 so they take away from us as well," Mbatha tells us.

Some shops around the CBD have remained closed out of fear that an attack may occur any time without them having enough time to hide away from the assailants. Meanwhile Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba has flown down to Durban in a bid to alleviate tension in the area. Here are some of his tweets;  

   

*Not real names

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