Lives go up in smoke
Johannesburg - “I have nothing left of my business; everything is gone,” Mozambican George Djedje told The Star on Friday morning after his panel-beating and spray-painting business was looted and burnt down on Thursday night in Jeppestown.
Car wrecks smouldered, the air was smoky and there was a heavy police presence as reporters arrived.
Djedje and his partner Aboudoul Halilou’s business was one of several foreigners’ shops destroyed here on Thursday night.
“It’s our livelihood; I don’t know what will happen now,” Djedje said. “I can’t go back there. After I sort this out, I’m going to go back to Mozambique.
“I’m not welcome here.”
Djedje, who lives in Soweto, said he did not know how he was going to pay the hundreds of thousands of rand to the owners of the seven cars he was working on.
“I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what will happen. People are cross. I also have a family to provide for – a wife and children.”
The shop was attacked at about 8pm, said a witness who asked to remain anonymous. “The men broke down the doors, windows, then rolled three cars out of the shop and burnt one outside the shop; the other two near the hostel (in Wolhuter Street).”
One customer, a Zimbabwean immigrant whose Toyota was burnt, said this was his only way of getting to and from work.
“I have two children; I don’t know how I will provide for them now. I want to go back to Zimbabwe; there is nothing here for me now.”
A Mozambican woman whose car was also burnt said she was angry with the panel beaters and the police. “I came yesterday morning to pick up my car because I was worried this would happen and they wouldn’t let me,” she said.
Residents shouted to foreigners to leave.
One man said: “If these foreigners come back, we will find them and burn them.”
Journalists met with the same threat.
The fire department arrived while the police patrolled the area, watching as people stripped the cars and broke windows.
One police officer, who asked to remain anonymous because he wasn’t authorised to speak to the media, said a lot of businesses had been affected last night.
“The looters broke windows, burnt down anything foreign- owned and were threatening people in and around the area.”
Police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini said 12 people were arrested. He assured journalists that the police were doing their best to restore order in the area.
On Thursday an Ethiopian man cried as he recalled how a mob had attacked them and looted their shop in the Makause informal settlement near Germiston.
Gudiso Landela said he was forced to clean up the mess. His younger brother, Tamrad, is in hospital after the group stabbed him.
Gudiso was also injured during the attack.
He cried as he described how about 20 locals from Makause had broken into his shop and assaulted them.
“They came into the shop and started stealing our stock,” he said.
“When my brother and I told them to leave, they took out a knife and stabbed him.”
Gudiso and Tamrad have temporary asylum-seeker permits and have been working legally in the country for the past four years