Pretoria – The looting of small businesses in Tshwane was unacceptable and would not be tolerated, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said on Sunday.
“The violence, destruction of property and various acts of criminality directed at foreign-owned traders cannot be tolerated in a democratic society,” she said in a statement.
The violence had reversed gains government had made in harmonising the relationships between locals and traders of foreign origin, Zulu said.
Dozens of shops were looted this week in Tshwane as residents protested after the African National Congress announced Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate. Five people died in one week during the violent protests.
Zulu on Sunday condemned the looting in the “strongest possible terms”.
Investments up in smoke
"On what basis will people be prepared to become entrepreneurs when their investments can go up in smoke for no fault of theirs?" she asked.
Zulu commended the police for their work in Tshwane and urged them to leave no stone unturned to restore calm and stability.
"We are confident that our law enforcement agencies will continue to deal firmly against these anarchists and destructionists [sic]."
She called on community leaders to refrain from mobilising members of the public against foreign traders for "their own selfish interests".
Zulu said she was concerned the ongoing intimidation of small business owners and destruction of small businesses would "discourage entrepreneurs to establish new businesses, and thus undermine our efforts of building a nation of entrepreneurs and job creators".