Durban - With fears violence and looting of foreign-owned shops could spread to KwaZulu-Natal, the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) said it was disturbed by the attacks and deaths of foreign nationals that operate as informal traders in townships and villages based on accusations that they trade in fake and expired goods and counterfeit products.
Violence and looting broke out in Soweto and there are fears it could spread to KwaZulu-Natal. Three people were killed and 27 were arrested by Gauteng police.
In addition, a WhatsApp message also added fuel to the fire. The message, which has been doing the rounds since the Soweto violence this week, is threatening Somali shop owners and their landlords about forceful evictions this weekend.
The message reads: “By End of August Every South African who has rented their garage to Somalians for Spaza shops must chase them out or else the house and Spaza shop will be burnt on September 8.”
Chairman of Somali Association of South Africa Shukri Dies told the Pretoria News that the government was not doing enough to protect them.
“Again the government is failing us. There is no proven fact that shop items have expired or are counterfeit. The government must drive a campaign that disregards all this fake news,” he said.
August Mbhele, Food and Allied Workers Union spokesperson, called for the urgent clamping down of illegal operators and illegitimate importers as with illicit traders, for the sake of local jobs, health to the nation and revenue to the fiscus.
"We support a peaceful campaign against illicit trade- a campaign we have been waging by protest marches to the South Africa Revenue Services (SARS) in March and again to the National Treasury in August 2018. What we cannot do is to support is the attacks on foreign nationals, their killings, damage to or looting of property, and the injury to them and to others caught in the situation," he said.
The union called on local citizens to cease with and desist from further attacking foreign nationals.
"Actually, we believe that every evidence fake and expired goods, counterfeit and smuggled products, and illegally manufactured foodstuff and other products must be reported to law enforcement agencies, consumer commission and other authorities,"Mbhele said.
The union calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to take the matter seriously and establish a multi-disciplinary task force; involving health inspectors, tax officials, police officers, and other relevant players; that will crack down on illegal local manufacturers, illegitimate importers and smugglers, and overall illicit traders involved in a range of products as but not limited to below:
- White spirits and other alcohol
- Beverage soft drinks
- Cigarettes and other tobacco products
- Sweetened and sugary candies
- Poultry and chicken products
- Fishing products
- Basic foodstuffs
- Pharmaceutical products
- Other basic necessities
- Poultry and chicken products.
"We call on communities to be engaged in peaceful protest actions and stage marches to the authorities. The president must assemble a multi-faceted task force and get the mission going as we do not have the luxury of time. One day passing by means more jobs are being threatened, health is at risk and revenue to the fiscus at stake,"Mbhele said.