Members of Samora Machel Business Forum have refuted the claims that the looting of various shops in the area on Saturday 7 September was perpetrated by xenophobia, instead blamed it on criminal elements. They called on the police to conduct a “thorough investigation” and arrest everyone involved. Anarchy prevailed in Samora over the weekend when looters stormed various stores including the Chinese-owned SaveMor and Mama’s. Several other businesses, mostly owned by foreigners, were forced to close.Chairperson of the forum Masithini Ntlabezi said they are grieving with the people whose businesses were affected. “We want to state it that there is no xenophobic violence in Samora. The people who looted foreign-owned shops are the criminals who wanted to fulfil their agenda,” he said. Ntlabezi said the protest was started by “guzzlers” from Kosovo a fortnight ago after they were allegedly assaulted by law enforcement agencies during a clampdown on illegal shebeens.“There were people who said they were not happy about the conduct of soldiers,” said Ntlabezi. He said there has been an ongoing clampdown on illegal shebeens and some people have been assaulted in the process. Ntlabezi questioned the motive for protesting only on weekends and at night. “It is clear that their motive is to loot. It is not about service delivery or whatsoever. We don’t believe their notion that the soldiers assaulted them,” he stated. As the forum, he said they plan to convene a meeting with various community stakeholders to address the issue. Ward 33 councillor Sithembiso Mzobe agreed that the protest had an element of criminality. He said nobody came to him to complain about the assault by soldiers. “These are just rumours that we hear outside,” he said. Mzobe described SaveMor as a helpful shop for the community. He said some people use the shop to get their social grant money. “Besides that there are more than 70 people from Samora who work there. And even in some of the foreign national shops most people hired are locals,” he said. Samora Machel police station commander Lut Col Elliot Lingani did not respond to City Vision at the time of going to print.