Foreign shop owners in Mamelodi, Mabopane, Soshanguve and Atteridgeville said they were worried after incidents in Soweto, where three people died after attacks on businesses owned by foreigners on Wednesday night.
The traders said they feared a ripple effect in Pretoria - and their concerns were not far fetched, as this has happened numerous times in the past.
In addition to their heartfelt concerns, a WhatsApp message also added fuel to the fire. The message, which has been doing the rounds since the Soweto violence this week, is threatening Somali shop owners and their landlords about forceful evictions this weekend.
The message reads: “By End of August Every South African who has rented their garage to Somalians for Spaza shops must chase them out or else the house and Spaza shop will be burnt on September 8.”
Chairman of Somali Association of South Africa Shukri Dies said the government was not doing enough to protect them. “Again the government is failing us. There is no proven fact that shop items have expired or are counterfeit. The government must drive a campaign that disregards all this fake news,” he said.
Dies said Africans were a long way off in uniting, and needed to be conscious. He said Chinese businesses had also in the past been accused of selling counterfeit goods, but their shops were not looted. “I have never heard of China City being looted; why are Africans doing this to their brothers?” he asked.
Dies did acknowledge elements of criminality played a role in Wednesday’s events, and that some people were only taking advantage.
Asked about the recent social media posts showing that some products were expired and counterfeit, Dies said: “Not every shop owner should be painted with the same brush because of the ills of others.” He said it was a stereotypical way of thinking.
Dies said he had been inundated with phone calls from businessmen in Pretoria West desperately seeking help and intervention. He said Somalis had no faith in the South African Police Service to protect them.
Foreign nationals also wanted to ask their embassies to intervene.