SA can’t let fury turn to fire again

2011-06-11 12:25

For several weeks, we have been writing and reporting about a new rise in organised ­xenophobia.

Under the auspices of concerned business forums, local spaza shop-owners are ­organising uprisings against foreign-owned businesses.

Our reports have revealed that shops owned by foreigners do indeed offer cheaper prices than locally owned establishments.

Locals we talk to complain that Somali shopkeepers, for example, will open three stores a hop and a skip away from a locally owned spaza.

Elsewhere, this is healthy retail competition, but in the townships, it’s deadly.

South African spaza shop-owners have become outsiders looking into their own markets. And the foreigners have become the insiders doing a ­roaring trade.

Last week, we reported that the ­National ­Intelligence Agency would investigate whether the forums were linked. They are.

This rising violence (this week we report on a deadly attack on a Zimbabwean man in Diepsloot that has attracted global attention) casts a pall on our celebration of a year since South Africa hosted the World Cup.

Government needs to uphold an even-handed ­migration policy that recognises its responsibilities to its own citizens while ensuring that we keep ­immigrants safe too.

It’s a tough balance, but we need to start now or we will return to 2008 when the fury turned to fire.

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