Rustenburg - After a video circulated on social media showing a foreign national shop owner selling expired food items, the community of Ikageng in the North West province decided to swoop on spaza shops to seize what they believe to be expired food.
However, foreign nationals have criticised the raids as inciting xenophobia.
Community leader Mpho Ntsitsi and a group of residents have been going to shops across Ikageng, near Rustenburg, saying their aim is to confiscate expired food to protect the community from food poisoning.
However, food experts say it’s only perishable foods – mostly food that is refrigerated‚ including meat and dairy - that carries a serious health risk if it's consumed after its sell-by date.
A shop owner who only wanted to be identified as Ahmad, and who hails from Somalia, said the residents blamed foreign nationals for the collapse of shops owned by locals. He has been living in South Africa for almost a decade. He lived in Johannesburg for six years but moved to Potchefstroom because of frequent attacks on shops owned by foreign nationals.
“Potchefstroom is a relatively peaceful place for us but now I'm starting to see the same tactics here, which is very disappointing. The groups only target shops owned by us but not all our goods are expired. I check my stock weekly for expiry dates,” he said.
Ntsitsi though rejected the xenophobic claims. “We are not attacking anyone, we are just concerned for the health of our community. Residents were planning a strike, that’s when chaos erupts. All food confiscated will be destroyed, we want to ensure that community members don't get hold of these expired goods,” he said.