KwaMashu shopkeepers targeted in xenophobic attacks

2017-05-30 20:05
This shop was set alight during xenophobic attacks in KwaMashu on Monday night. (Kaveel SIngh, News24)

This shop was set alight during xenophobic attacks in KwaMashu on Monday night. (Kaveel SIngh, News24)

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Durban – Foreign national shopkeepers appear to have been the main target of KwaMashu locals, who embarked on xenophobic attacks in the area on Monday night.

By Tuesday, many of the local spaza shopkeepers had fled the area, in fear of more violence.

Social media posts, claiming that foreign nationals were behind the abductions of young children, appear to have spurred the locals on to attack foreigners.

Authorities have, however, denied that any children have gone missing.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, one shop owner, Doctor Mthembu, said: "Even the station commander has clarified that no child has gone missing."

"Like we hear on the news, no parent has come forward saying that their child is missing. We heard yesterday that there were children who were abducted, but that is false information."

He said that locals went to the school where children were allegedly kidnapped.

"These supposedly stolen kids attended school and the principal said that they were able to account for every child in the school – meaning no child from that school was abducted."

'They took everything'

Mthembu said the rumours of foreign nationals abducting children began on social media.

"This whole thing started on social media. That is why it went viral so fast. Even now, the children are marching on the street because of the rumours that are going around of cars abducting children in Ntuzuma and KwaMashu."

He added: "The problem is, till today, we don’t know who these 'abducted' people are. We don’t know who is doing this to our people. Everyone is just speculating."

The brother of a spaza shop owner, Sabelo Maseko, said that even though he and his sister were South African, her shop was also looted.

"They came to steal the fridge, stock… everything. I was sleeping and heard a gun [shot]. I came outside and saw more than 100 people. They said they want their children, believing the shopkeeper, who was Somalian, was involved."

Maseko said the police had to take away the Somalian who worked there.

Lungile Nyokwana-Methula, the owner of the property where a shop was located, said she was saddened to see the condition of her premises.

"I heard from my colleagues, who stay closer, that I must come have a look at my father’s shop. They took everything."

Nyokwana-Methula said Zimbabwean nationals were renting the space and had run a spaza shop.

"They are nice people and pay their rent on time. I am sad seeing this. My father owned this shop for many decades."

'Misleading information'

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube urged councillors to hold urgent meetings with residents, as part of efforts to restore peace and stability in townships around Durban.

Dube-Ncube rejected the violence in KwaMashu, saying protests had spread.

"This morning, the violence spread to neighbouring townships such as Ntuzuma, Inanda, where reports surfaced that school children were being forced out of school to join protest actions."

She called on communities to exercise restraint and raise concerns through local leaders.

"Any issues of concern to communities must be resolved peacefully and through dialogue. Violence and taking the law into your own hands can only make the situation worse," said Dube-Ncube

She called on those spreading false information through social media "to desist from doing so, as their misleading information appears to be behind the disturbance of peace in these townships".

"We call on the police to investigate the sources of these false and reckless rumours and charge those responsible for these hoax gossips that have given rise to violence in our communities. Social media cannot be used as a tool for fanning the flames of violence."

Earlier on Tuesday, pupils from various schools embarked on protest action in response to the rumours of abductions.

However, Department of Community Safety and Liaison director Simphiwe Mbhele said this was false.

"It is not true that foreign nationals are behind the kidnapping and abductions of children. That is not the information we have."

The protest ended peacefully after the large group dispersed just outside Bridge City Mall.

Read more on:    durban  |  protests

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