Foreign business owners continue to flee Soweto

2015-01-24 16:04
Looters in Soweto. (File, Mikzo, Twitter)

Looters in Soweto. (File, Mikzo, Twitter)

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Johannesburg - Several foreign-owned shops in Soweto were abandoned on Saturday following a week of violence and looting.

Packets littered the streets, ransacked shops were empty, and broken windows could be seen.

In Dobsonville, Meadowlands and Mofolo North shops were closed and police visibility was low.

Some empty shops were scattered with empty bottles, boxes, bed sheets, pillows and clothing.

The unrest in Soweto began on Monday when 14-year-old Siphiwe Mahori was shot dead, allegedly by a Somali shopkeeper, as Mahori and a group tried to rob his shop in Snake Park.

The shop owner, Senosi Yusuf, was expected to appear in the Protea Magistrate's Court on a charge of murder on Monday.

Teen shot dead

In another incident, a 19-year-old youth was shot in Naledi on Wednesday and was declared dead on arrival at hospital.

According to reports, the youth, Nhlanhla Monareng, was shot when police fired into a crowd gathered at a Pakistani-owned shop. He was a bystander.

On Saturday, a group of Somali nationals stood outside their closed store near Mashaba centre in Dobsonville. They had come to check on the shop after fleeing the area on Wednesday night.

They returned on Thursday with metro police to retrieve the remaining stock in their shop but had found that everything was taken. An open safe was lying nearby.

In the same area, children were seen inside another shop that had been ransacked.

A shop rented by Bangladeshi nationals, that was looted on Thursday, remained empty on Saturday.

The shop is in a building owned by a South African. The owner's son, Bongani Nyathi, said locals knew the building was owned by a South African but despite this vandalised the store.

"People from the township, you can't tell them anything. Once they don't want you, they don't want to listen to any reason," he said.

"My father owns the building so we are going to take over the shop, the Bangladeshi came earlier to leave the keys today."

Premier reassures foreign business owners

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Saturday addressed hundreds of foreign business owners in Mayfair, Eyewitness News reported.

"Locals have told me they benefit hugely from you, so you guys are an asset to our communities," Makhura was quoted as saying.
"You add value to our economy, share your business ideas with local business owners, you can learn from each other ...We protect honest business human beings ... Work with us so we can protect you."

Makhura handed out relief parcels to the business owners, many of whom had lost everything following violent attacks on their shops this week.

He urged them not to buy guns or break the law.

"Government is working to find a sustainable solution so that you can be reintegrated back into the community," he reportedly said.

Looting spreads

At least three people have been killed and 162 arrested since the unrest began.

The Star reported that Malawian shopkeeper Dan Mokwena, 74, was also attacked and killed in his shop in the early hours of Wednesday.

Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba said the looting had since spread to Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, and Kagiso, on the West Rand.

In Swaneville, a 61-year-old bystander was shot and killed when a foreigner fired at a crowd stoning his shop on Thursday night.

On the same day in Tshepisong, a man was wounded while allegedly trying to break into a spaza shop belonging to a foreigner.

Read more on:    soweto  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  soweto unrest

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