Foreign shop owners 'instructed to close down' by local competitors

14 May 2018 - 12:05 By Suthentira Govender
Image: David Harrison / The Times

Police are on high alert in Durban’s northern townships after foreign spaza shop owners were instructed by their local counterparts to shut their businesses by Friday.

A letter distributed to foreign shop owners by the Northern Region Business Association - that claims to represent local informal traders - instructed them to “close down your shop and cease all operations within 14 days of this notice. You will receive the next instruction from your own association representative.”

Local shop owners have accused foreigners of putting them out of business‚ resulting in simmering tension.

Somalian nationals operating businesses in Inanda‚ Ntuzuma‚ KwaMashu and Phoenix believe the letter is a veiled threat and could spark xenophobic violence‚ similar to the rampage that erupted three years ago. Six people died following clashes between foreign nationals and locals‚ allegedly over jobs.

In reaction to the correspondence‚ the KwaZulu-Natal Somali Community Council has called on KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu‚ eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and the police for intervention and preventative measures to be implemented before the situation spirals into “mob violence and spreads to unaffected areas”.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala told TimesLIVE that police were on high alert in the area. “We are aware of the letter that has been circulated. There have been meetings that have been held between the affected parties to discuss the way forward.”

More meetings are expected to take place this week‚ Gwala said. “So far there have been no threats or incidents that have been reported to police‚” she added.