Six shot amid xenophobic mayhem

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Johannesburg - At least six people, including a 6-year-old child, were shot in Munsieville, Krugersdorp, in a New Year’s Eve attack.

A woman who lived near a Somali shop said trouble started at about 4pm when a teenager entered the small shop, known in the area as the “family store”, with a knife and tried to steal some bread.

The shop was rebuilt recently, after being burnt down two months ago in an attack on Somali shopkeepers.

The woman, who did not want to be named because she feared reprisals from neighbours, said she heard shouting and saw a boy running down the road.

The eyewitness said the youth was shot by one of the shopowners and collapsed near a tree on the edge of a road.

“I heard it. I thought it was a cricket (firecracker), but I saw the teenager running and then he fell down. I think he was dead,” she said.

Police arrived after the shooting and made some arrests, leaving the shop open, she said.

Residents, many of them teenage boys, decided it would be a good opportunity to raid the shop. But there was resistance from the Somalis, who defended themselves by shooting at their attackers, witnesses said.

Women told their children to flee their homes, while others cowered indoors.

Outside, a rioting crowd had formed, determined to loot a Somali shop and burn it to the ground.

The witness said people were singing and getting worked up.

She said she saw seven men and five women shot.

The melee ended at about 9pm on New Year’s Eve.

On Wednesday, burn marks in the road were all that was left of an attempt to light a tyre to burn the shop down.

Mealie meal lay scattered amid the burn marks.

A woman, who lives nearby and who also asked not to be named, said people didn’t want Somali shopowners in the area.

“People say they don’t need them around, so this one troublemaker went in to steal things with a knife,” she said. “The Somalis shot to defend themselves, and the police arrested them.”

The woman said that when people heard that stock was being looted, they ran to join in.

“It was very scary. Even the police had to run away at one point,” she said.

“I told my child to run away and leave the house because it wasn’t safe.”

The woman said the situation was worse two months ago when the shop was burnt to the ground.

“People have been talking a lot lately, saying Mandela is dead so all the Zimbabweans and Mozambicans must leave now. But I think people are people. Everybody belongs,” she said.

Netcare 911 said six people were injured in the incident; two were in a critical condition and four had serious injuries.

Netcare spokesman Chris Botha said that when paramedics arrived, they found six people injured, including a child. Paramedics stabilised the injured at the scene and airlifted one person to hospital.

SAPS spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale said seven people were injured. Police arrested five people.

The Star

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