White City residents: Looting will continue until government deals with 'issues'
Johannesburg - Aggrieved community members of White City, Soweto, on Thursday said the looting of foreign nationals shops would not end until the government dealt with their gripes that include, the recent foreign nationals' attack on SA police, joblessness and making sure shop owners bank their money and pay tax.
The shops were looted overnight in different parts of Soweto including Moroka, Dlamini, Protea Glen, Dobsonville, Rockville and Zola. Looters broke down doors, windows and emptied shelves.
White City resident Thabo Khumalo recounted how the looting started.
"We were sitting here at corner. Then yesterday [Wednesday], around 5pm a huge crowd came and broke into the store," said Khumalo.
"We were obviously shocked so we moved away. The reason they did this was because last week, foreign nationals attacked police in town so they were retaliating."
Another resident, who only identified himself as "Nathi", said he felt the looting was unfortunate, but necessary.
"These people get paid cash. They do not bank so they don't pay pay taxes on their monies. We don't have jobs and yet the government is allowing them to be here," complained Nathi.
"They are more favoured than the actual citizens of the country."
He also alleged that the cost of airtime was higher at foreign-owned shops.
"The airtime is higher than the actual amount and chances are, the service providers don't even know."
Gauteng Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment MEC Kgosientsho Ramokgopa visited affected areas where he engaged with community members.
"We need an enduring solution because It's a manifestation of unemployment, lack of opportunities, that is the situation we want to address. We need to revitalise the economy of townships, create stability and address acts of illegality," said Ramokgopa.
Police spokesperson Kay Makhubele said so far seven people were arrested in Jabulani in connection with the looting. He also called for calm.
"The community must report everything to the relevant authorities. We're here to engage with them and make sure to solve their problems," said Makhubele.
By mid-morning calm had been somewhat restored to the affected areas. The owners of the looted shops have apparently been moved to sanctuaries, making it difficult for them to be reached for comment.
However, an Ethiopian shop owner who identified himself as Mesfin said if he had money, he would leave South Africa immediately.
His shop in Moroka, Soweto, was looted on Wednesday.
"This is the third time this happens and frankly I feel like I am done with South Africa. All we are trying to do is make an honest living but people keep stealing from us and we are tired of it," lamented Mesfin.
Previous incidents of looting were allegedly prompted by the sale of fake drinks. Mesfin asked why residents were stealing his stock and keeping it for themselves if the goods were fake as claimed previously.
About 20 foreign nationals took refuge at the Moroka Police Station. They also moved whatever goods they could.
African News Agency/ANA