Cops hunting looters who attacked foreign-owned shops in Soweto

15 August 2019 - 15:08 By Nonkululeko Njilo
Townships affected by Wednesday night's looting of foreign-owned spaza shops included Meadowlands, Zola, Emdeni, Moletsane, White City, Zondi and Rockville.
Townships affected by Wednesday night's looting of foreign-owned spaza shops included Meadowlands, Zola, Emdeni, Moletsane, White City, Zondi and Rockville.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Shopkeepers feeling vulnerable after a night of looting in various areas of Soweto are closing shop and moving to safety for fear of fresh flare-ups.

Townships affected by Wednesday night's looting of foreign-owned spaza shops included Meadowlands, Zola, Emdeni, Moletsane, White City, Zondi and Rockville.

Reasons for the lootings are unclear.

Meadowlands resident Lucky Kekana* told TimesLIVE that foreigners running businesses in the area should do more to assimilate with the community.

"It's not like we don't want them here, but we want them to abide by the rules, like being here legally. Most of our brothers and sisters are unemployed, yet they open a shop on each every corner.

"We're saying we must work together, they must respect us and employ one or two people in the community ... they can't just get here and take over, else they must leave," said Kekana.

Gauteng police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubule said no arrests had been made on Thursday but investigations were under way as the looting sprees had been captured in a series of videos.

"We  have not arrested anyone, but investigations to establish what led to the attacks are under way.

"We will also use the information that is available to identify those who were involved in the lootings and vandalising of these shops," said Makhubele.   

The situation was calm in the townships on Thursday, but a significant number of foreign-owned shops had been closed, with some owners fleeing the area. 

In Diepkloof, which was not affected, foreign shop owners had decided to voluntarily leave the area as a precaution, according to Makhubele. 

"The situation is calm but owners at Diepkloof are currently moving their stock and leaving the area. They are being escorted by police," he told TimesLIVE.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) condemned the attacks on foreign nationals, which it said were unjustified. 

"The commission calls on everyone to respect and uphold the rule of law and refrain from criminal actions, particularly when such acts are directed against vulnerable groups. The commission is of the view that there is no justification for the incidents of looting which occurred," it said. 

The commission  said communities had previously  expressed their frustrations and concerns over missed economic opportunities, alleged flouting of by-laws and the entry of undocumented migrants into the country. It called on the state to attend to the matter urgently.

*Identity withheld at interviewee's request

X