WATCH: Crackdown on foreign-owned shops as fake, expired foods flood South African townships



Published Oct 20, 2023


A crackdown on foreign-owned shops in townships is under way in Diepkloof with members of Operation Dudula raiding the premises of these establishments.

Operation Dudula, who have vowed to remove foreign owners of spaza shops in townships across South Africa, visited several spaza shops in Diepkloof on Thursday and Friday.

Dressed in military fatigues, Operation Dudula members forced their way into shops where they inspected food items for its expiry dates. Items that were found to be expired were confiscated and burned outside the shops.

A member of Operation Dudula inspects a product at a foreign-owned shop in Diepkloof on Thursday. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency (ANA)

Police arrived during the raids and while members of the Operation Dudula wanted some of the shop owners to be arrested, none were, according to Independent Media photographer, Itumeleng Mafisa who was at the raid and took pictures and videos.

In one of the videos, an Operation Dudula member tells a foreign shop owner who is a refugee that he should go back home to fight his struggle, as South Africans needed to sort out their own country.

“You are displacing us. Our social economy, we are not participating in, because of your influx in our country. You came in numbers and you own all the businesses and we end up being spectators in our own country,” he told the shop owner.

Members of Operation Dudula check the expiry date on boxes of curry powder during a raid at a foreign owned shop in Diepkloof on Thursday. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency (ANA)

It comes amid growing anger in townships following the deaths of four children in two separate incidents who died after allegedly eating products purchased from foreign-owned spaza stores.

These two incidents, one in Soweto and the other in the West Rand, were confirmed by the Gauteng Department of Health, The Star reported.

The rise of fake food manufacturing sites has also raised the ire of local communities who blame foreign shop owners of taking advantage of the poor communities they operate from.

The City of Joburg MMC for Public Safety, Mgcini Tshwaku, has met with the owners of spaza businesses in and around Johannesburg following the reports of fake foods and the deaths of the children.

So serious is the issue that ANC secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula said it was raised during the ANC’s National Executive Committee meeting at the weekend.

Members of Operation Dudula raid at a foreign owned shop in Diepkloof on Thursday. Picture: Itumeleng English/ African News Agency (ANA)

“With the issue of spaza shops, we had a brief discussion because the minister of small enterprises together with the minister of labour did not feature on the agenda of this NEC meeting. They are going to feature because, as the ANC, we want to embark on a massive drive of doing away with illegal immigrants in our townships running spaza shops. We are going to join communities, not in the form of Operation Dudula and do it illegally,” Mbalula said.

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