Sowetan: Shop looting raises fears of xenophobic attacks

Shop looting raises fears of xenophobic attacks
Anna Majavu and Elvis ka Nyelenzi
9 July 2010

THE spectre of xenophobic attacks threatened after the Fifa World Cup was visited early when unruly Khayelitsha residents looted a shop owned by a Somali national on Wednesday.

Sowetan arrived at the scene in J Section, Khayelitsha, just after about 50 locals ransacked the grocery shop.

Angry community members condemned the attack on the shop and said they had called the police.

J Section resident Thembi Nzi told Sowetan she was afraid for the lives of the Somali shopkeepers.

“What happened was bad. As the community, we don’t support that group who broke into the shop and stole the groceries. The problem is it’s not even gangsters. It’s residents who stay here. They did that,” said Nzi.

Lali Williams said that even children had joined in the looting.

“I don’t like it when people rob the Somali shops because whenever I need something, I buy it there. Now there is only one shop left. I am against this,” he said.

Nzi and Williams said the police arrived very quickly.

Khayelitsha’s Abahlali baseMjondolo Western Cape leader Mzonke Poni also condemned the attack.

“This was planned by faceless people who used innocent people for the wrong reasons. We do not discriminate against our brothers and sisters from Africa. They have been living in our communities for a long time.

“They have been good friends to us. We must all stand up for them and defend them so the attacks stop quickly,” Poni said.

The shop-owner did not want to speak to Sowetan.

But his brother, Noor Gulen, did.

He said: “About 50 people took everything from the shop. It is now empty. Everything is out. My brother is afraid now because he says maybe they can come back.”

Cape Town Afro-soul diva Mtika later put out this message to her Facebook fans: “Planned Xenophobic Attacks? What is wrong with us? Government must intervene pro-actively before something happens! NO to XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS!!”

Eric Ntshiqela, president of the National Informal Settlement Organisation of South Africa, also condemned the attack. He told us that “government must work with business, police, the community and foreign nationals to come up with an anti-xenophobia plan”.