Water shut down over rumour that owners of looted shops poisoned supply

2014-03-04 11:46

Water supply to a township in Mpumalanga was stopped early this morning for fear that foreign nationals could have poisoned reservoirs in retaliation against the looting of their shops.

Read: Municipality falls for poisoned-water hoax

Tensions between the residents of Pienaar near Nelspruit and shop-owning foreign nationals simmered at the weekend when 20-year-old pupil Wellington Dube was buried on Sunday.

Dube, a learner at Mayibuye Secondary School, was allegedly shot dead on February 25 by a Somalian national who accused him of robbing his shop.

Dube allegedly produced a knife during a fist fight and the Somalian man – whose identity is not yet known because he is on the run from police – used his firearm.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Leonard Hlathi said residents ran amok after the funeral and indiscriminately looted and vandalised all shops belonging to foreign nationals.

Police protected the shop owners and ensured they left the township, but this morning a rumour started circulating that the Somalians were seen at the water reservoirs.

“This stays a rumour until we get test results of the water from the Mbombela (local municipality). It is true that police were told about this allegation around 2am, and we will be investigating,” Hlathi said.

Mbombela municipal spokesperson Joseph Ngala was not immediately available to comment.

Hlathi said residents were still angry and they had blocked roads this morning.

The violence also spread to the neighbouring KaNyamazane township where residents reported that there had been a stand-off between the locals and foreign nationals there.

Hlathi said police had since arrested three Somalians in Pienaar for the illegal possession of firearms.

“Four more people were shot in Pienaar since the looting started but it’s a matter that we’re still investigating,” he said.

The police, said Hlathi, also arrested 13 Pienaar residents between 18 and 30 years for public violence. They were expected to appear in the KaBokweni Magistrates’ Court today.

Meanwhile, Hlathi said three Pakistani nationals were arrested in Tekwane South township for the illegal possession of firearms.

He said details on this case were still sketchy, and could not yet be linked to the xenophobic violence in the townships around Nelspruit.

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