MEC: Looting foreigners' shops unacceptable

2013-09-17 14:41
A Somali shopkeeper cries in his empty shop, after it was looted in Diepsloot. Seventy people have been arrested following the looting of foreigners' shops in Port Elizabeth. (Picture: Beeld)

A Somali shopkeeper cries in his empty shop, after it was looted in Diepsloot. Seventy people have been arrested following the looting of foreigners' shops in Port Elizabeth. (Picture: Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Looting foreign-owned shops and related violence in Nelson Mandela Bay metro is unacceptable, Eastern Cape safety MEC Helen Sauls-August said on Tuesday.

She condemned the violence, which started after a foreign shop owner allegedly shot dead a man outside his shop in New Brighton on Saturday. The shop owner has since been arrested.

The alleged shooting over the weekend could not be condoned, but people should not become criminals by engaging in vigilante attacks on foreign nationals in the metro.

Sauls-August said residents should allow police to do their work and arrest those involved in any form of violence. No one should break the law by attacking other people or destroying property.

The might of the law

Community-based structures were encouraged to resolve differences between locals and foreigners to restore peace and order in the area.

"Those who retaliate on the incident [at] the weekend, where a person was shot dead, will not be spared from facing the might of the law," she said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Eastern Cape police said 70 people had been arrested for looting and public violence.
Brigadier Marinda Mills said the situation was "tense but stable" on Tuesday morning after sporadic looting of shops owned by immigrants on Monday night.

Looting was reported in Kwadwesi, Missionvale, Swartkops, New Brighton, and Motherwell.

"During our interaction with affected communities, it was clear that the motive for the attacks on foreign-owned spaza shops [was] not xenophobic in nature, but a criminal element that has seized an opportunity," Mills said.

Looting was considered public violence, which was a schedule one offence under the Criminal Procedure Act.

Difficult to prevent looting

It was difficult for police to prevent looting, as it was hard to predict when and where it would occur.

"Most of the foreign shop owners have been assisted to relocate their property to safer locations," said Mills.

"A high police presence and visibility is maintained in all the townships in the Nelson Mandela metro, and police stations have been put on high alert to ensure a quick response and, as far as possible, the immediate arrest of perpetrators."

She said residents in the areas had told the police they had no problem working and living with immigrants, and that many had helped them during the attacks.
Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  xenophobia

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