SA man shot dead in Springs during looting of foreign-owned shop

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A man lay dead, wrapped in a silver cover, while his relatives wept in the White City section of Kwathema in Springs on Wednesday.

Police and residents gathered around the marked area, GroundUp reports.

Witnesses say the shooting happened around 15:00 when the shooter was trying to protect a foreign shop owner. The man who was shot dead lived in a different area about 3km away.

He was 24-years-old, Kwathema police later said.

Vans were seen dropping groups of men who had come to loot shops in the area. Residents said looters were not from their area and that they had not seen them before.

A 45-year-old woman was also shot and wounded during the same incident and taken to hospital, according to police.

"It is alleged that a group of people wanted to attack a shop owned by a foreign national. The landlord came out to rescue the shop owner. He warned and threatened the group of people that were outside his yard.

"A fight ensued, and when he saw that he was overpowered he took out his licensed firearm and started shooting randomly. The 35-year-old suspect was traced, arrested and detained at Kwathema SAPS," said a police statement.

xenopohbia

A man was shot dead after a mob tried to loot a shop run by a foreign national in Kwathema, Springs. (Kimberly Mutandiro, GroundUp)

A relative of the arrested man, named Nonkululekho, said: "This violence against foreigners is getting out of hand. Innocent people are being shot. Our brother fired the gun in self-defence. He was trying to defend our home."

Nonkululekho said that, after the shooting, they had received warnings that their house would be burnt down.

In Kwathema’s Deep Level section, GroundUp saw looters take the remaining stock out of a Wajebe Ayelo’s shop. Ayelo is Ethiopian. Still shaken by the incident, he sat on the ground holding his asylum permit.

'They took all my money'

He had not yet called the police. Looters had not only taken his stock, but also his money.

"They said I must go back to my country because l am an illegal foreigner. I showed them my asylum permit, but they laughed at me," he said.

Ayelo said he had closed his shop earlier when people told him that looters were coming. However, he says they managed to break the security door of his rental room and forced him to open the shop at gunpoint.

"While some looted my shop, others turned my sleeping quarters upside down. They took all my money."

He had operated his shop for five years. It had never been looted before.

"Now reality has been knocked into my senses," he said. "When I called my friends and told them that my shop had finally been looted, they said: 'Welcome to South Africa, a place where foreign nationals are tormented.'"

xenophobia

Wajebe Ayelo's shop was looted. (Kimberly Mutandiro, GroundUp)

In the early hours of Thursday, gunshots were heard across the township and looters emptied foreign-owned shops.

Residents GroundUp spoke to said they hardly closed their eyes during the night as gunshots rang out.

"We could hear shooting and voices all night. Many shops around our section were broken into during the night," said Gloria Mokoena who resides in Kwathema’s Highland section.

Earlier on Wednesday evening, GroundUp drove around Kwathema.

A crowd gathered near the men’s hostel.

They chanted while burning tyres. 

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