Stores Owned By Foreigners Looted In South African Township

Stores Owned By Foreigners Looted In South African Township

From Eyewitness News.

At least 50 people were arrested during violent protests and looting in the Diepsloot  township following the death of two Zimbabwean men.

The Zimbabweans were allegedly trying to rob a Somali shopkeeper who shot them.

More than 20 stores belonging to Somalis, Ethiopians and Pakistani’s were looted in what may have been a case of selective xenophobia while the businesses of other foreigners were left untouched, according to the report.

Police denied that xenophobia is behind the violence, but residents said certain foreign nationals were targeted.

David Mafethe, who’s lived in Diepsloot for 10 years, said the looting was sparked by the murders, but there is some resentment towards certain foreigners.

“They look like they are short-tempered people, they don’t like the local people and they separate themselves from the community,” he said.

Zimbabwean national Fungai Makota said she was attacked during the 2008 xenophobic violence but this time things have changed. “This time its not the same because they are only attacking the Somalis, Pakistanis and Ethiopians.”

Many residents said they would welcome the foreigners back to the township but warned them to change their behavior or face the same fate.

Gauteng Economic Development spokesperson Nkosiphendule Kolisile said trade must be open to all people living in South Africa.

“Trading must be a space which is open for people to compete,” Kolisile said. It can’t be allowed that it leads to violence.”

The Greater Gauteng Business Forum on Tuesday denied its members were mobilizing to take part in xenophobic attacks in three Johannesburg townships.

But the group said foreign-owned shops were bad for South Africa’s economy.

The forum’s Tshwane chairperson, Mpane Baloyi, said they do not want foreigners in townships.

“Our government should stop issuing asylum to these people (foreigners),” Baloyi said. “They should rather place them in camps. We don’t want them on our streets, not because we hate them, but due to economic space. You have to understand unemployment is very high in South Africa.”

Diepsloot, located in north Johannesburg, is a densely populated settlement of government-subsidized housing, brick houses built by landowners and shacks. It was established in 1995 as a transit camp for people who had been removed from another area. The intention was for people were to stay in the transit camp until other land became available. For many, the camp became a permanent home.

Shops in other areas including Orange Farm, Sebokeng and Port Elizabeth also were looted in the past few days.

Read more at Eyewitness News.