SAHRC slams 'Soweto Parliament' spaza shop directive as xenophobic

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Second-generation civil militia and community leader Nhlanhla Lux and his team protected Maponya Mall from looters. Photo: Elizabeth Sejake / Gallo Images
Second-generation civil militia and community leader Nhlanhla Lux and his team protected Maponya Mall from looters. Photo: Elizabeth Sejake / Gallo Images
  • The SA Human Rights Commission slammed a video purporting to ban foreign nationals from opening new spaza shops in Soweto. 
  • The video by the man regarded as being the hero preventing the looting of Maponya Mall insists that new shops can only be opened in new areas after discussions with the community.
  • Dressed in camouflage, he also says foreign national spaza shop owners will have to contribute to a bursary scheme and to funeral expenses.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) slammed a video warning foreign nationals not to open new spaza shops in Soweto. 

This was after a video by a man in camouflage who identifies himself as Nhlanhla Lux from the "Soweto Parliament", issues a warning to foreign nationals in the spaza shop business. 

Lux was lauded for his role in helping to prevent looting at the Maponya Mall in Soweto during the devastating unrest in July.

READ | Soweto leader Nhlanhla Lux on spending five sleepless nights protecting Maponya Mall – 'I am willing to risk my life'

"There will be no more new spazas in Soweto by foreign nationals," he says in the video.

"What's left of the spaza economy belongs to South Africans. 

"... The message is simple, the message is loud and clear. Whoever doesn't respect South African laws, will not exist in Soweto." 

He says new spazas would only be allowed in new suburbs after discussion with the "Soweto Parliament". 

The SAHRC says the "xenophobic" video blames foreign business owners for not obeying or upholding the law, and for crime. 

It also comes after the July unrest, where businesses are reopening after the devastating wave of looting.

The SAHCR said:

Blaming non-nationals for all crime, including the high levels of crime committed by South Africans themselves, is a clear sign of xenophobia and an unfortunate discrimination against people just because of their nationalities.

"The Commission is concerned that this video could constitute incitement to cause harm against non-national persons, their property and their businesses, especially in Soweto, which could in turn spill over to other communities.  

"In order to prevent this from happening, the Commission calls on law enforcement agencies to deal decisively with people and incidents such as this. It also appeals to all communities to reject and not to listen to those who want to continue to paint a bad name for South Africa and make it look like a country that is intolerant of diversity."

On their Facebook page, Soweto Parliament wrote: "Our Soweto Security Cluster covers every corner of Soweto, no more chance takers! - come hell or high waters, come rain or sunshine oksalayo WE WILL HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE!"

In a video on Facebook, two men state that there are enough spaza shops in the area. 

They also say they will assist in fighting crime and will help with school fees. 

They say foreign nationals will be forced to contribute to two university bursaries and funerals. Their empowerment plan includes making sure black entrepreneurs' products are in shops in Soweto.

Comment from the person whose number is listed on the page was not immediately available.

The group describes itself as "... the only platform where young people can exercise community leadership outside politics; we are the home of independent thinking that produces world class community leadership." 

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