Cape Town - A Chinese shop owner was attacked and his shop raided by Uitsig residents after he chopped off an alleged shoplifter’s ear with a sword at the weekend.
The shopkeeper, who runs a superette in Connaught Road, Uitsig, reacted by wielding a sword after he witnessed two known gangsters attempt to steal an item from his shop.
Uitsig community leader Denise Simpson, 58, has since called on police and the city to curb the gangsterism problem in the area.
She said that after living in the community for more than 40 years, the problem is “worse than it has ever been”.
Simpson witnessed the incident on Saturday, saying it is also worrying that the community was siding with known gangsters.
“The two guys, who we know are gangsters, came into the shop and pretended they were looking to buy something, but they stole from the shop and tried to run away.
“The shopkeeper was watching them, though, and had his sword ready. He jumped over the counter and chased after them.
“He chopped off the one guy’s ear and then slashed the other over his head. The guy picked up his ear and they both ran away.
“But they came back with about 200 angry residents, most of them youngsters who were obviously with the gangsters.
“That’s when it became a bit crazy. They first started throwing stones at the shopkeeper and his wife. They shattered all the windows and then they stormed into the shop.
“The shopkeeper tried to ward them off, but there were too many – they attacked the shopkeeper and his wife. I heard they were both stabbed and are fighting for their lives in hospital,” she said.
Another witness, Herschel Roman, 32, said the raid on the shopkeeper soon turned ugly.
“The people just started going crazy and more of them came. The took everything from the shop, even the cooldrink straws. Then they started burning tyres before the police came.”
Roman says about 10 police vans and five Nyalas pulled up at the scene.
“Police had to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the people,” he said.
Both Simpson and Roman expressed concern about alleged xenophobia in the area, saying foreigners, especially Nigerians and other Africans, often get robbed and assaulted.
Police confirmed the incident on Sunday.
“Police can confirm that on Saturday at 1.45pm a shop in Connaught Road, Uitsig, was attacked after two suspects tried to steal. The owner of the shop is believed to have attacked them with a panga,” said spokesman Tembinkosi Kinana.
“Members of the community reportedly converged on the area and started stoning the police and shop owners, who were later rushed to hospital.
“Police managed to disperse the crowd. A case of assault and public violence is being investigated. No arrests have been made at this stage.”