‘Total takeover of spaza shops not the answer’

An integrated township economy, not a takeover by foreign business owners, is best, the says chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on small business development.

"There has to be a way to integrate foreign nationals to the township economy, especially the spazas, without creating an impression to a township dweller that there is a total takeover," said Ruth Bhengu today.

She condemned the looting of shops in Soweto, south of Johannesburg, and violence by both locals and foreigners.

Bhengu said foreigners should not be "competition" for locals, since small businesses could alleviate poverty and create jobs.

A strong and sustainable small business sector, with a well developed savings culture, was needed.

"Contact with foreign-owned businesses should be such that concepts as capital accumulation, savings culture, customer relations and stock accountability are enhanced," she said.

A Johannesburg Democratic Alliance councillor, Vasco da Gama, urged the city to implement by-laws that enforced the licensing of township businesses.

He condemned the looting by locals and the illegal possession of firearms by foreigners.

In Soweto, shops owned by foreigners were looted following the shooting of Siphiwe Mahori, 14, in Snake Park, allegedly by a Somali shopkeeper, on Monday. The boy was apparently part of a group trying to rob the shop.

Gauteng police said today they had arrested 153 people on charges including murder, attempted murder, possession of suspected stolen property, and fraud. They had confiscated 11 guns, 10 of them from foreigners.

The looting has since spread to Diepsloot, in the north of Johannesburg, and Kagiso, on the West Rand.

President Jacob Zuma has instructed the security cluster in Cabinet and provincial and local leaders to bring the situation under control.

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