THE community of Alexandra have temporarily closed a few foreign-run spaza shops following a mini-shutdown of the stores in the area on Saturday.
The shutdown, which was heavily-guarded by police, did not last long as only a few members of the community turned up for the operation that was abandoned midway.
The latest wave of spaza shop shutdown operations comes after a series of incidents, some resulting in death that, have become a daily occurrence in local townships across the country.
Last week, schools and communities were urged to be vigilant about food after 62 pupils at two Tshwane schools became ill after apparently eating snacks bought from street vendors.
The incidents happened at Tlotlompho Primary School in Ga-Rankuwa and its counterpart in Winterveld,, Reimolotswe.
On Saturday, in Alexandra, some of the foreign spaza shop operators indicated that they are prepared to work with the community and will only reopen their shops once the issues have been dealt with.
An Ethiopian trader who introduced himself as Dube Nassim told The Star that he and his colleagues are prepared to work with the community of Alexandra to ensure outstanding issues are resolved.
“I have been trading and living with the people of Alexandra for over 10 years and we have closed our businesses to ensure that we engage and find amicable solutions to their issues. If they say we must close, we will until such time that things are back to normal,” Nassim said.
Michael Mothapo, one of the affected landlords who rents out one of his buildings to a foreign trader, said he was willing to take over the operations should he receive support to get the business off the ground should the community succeed in evicting foreign nationals from the township.
“I am not sure what is going to happen now that they are calling for the foreigners to leave and vacate these shops. I make R4 500 by renting out my shop to them, but should there be a way for me to get financial support to get started, I am willing to take over the operations,” Mothapo said.
Siphiwe Phungwayo, who led the march, said the recent incidents of food poisoning and reports of sale of expired food products should not be taken lightly as children have died due to government negligence.
“We have decided to take the matter into our own hands and the township economy should be be reserved for South Africans in the first place. We cant continue to let foreigners take over our township, while leaving us unemployed,” he said.
Meanwhile, the African Transformation Movement (ATM) has called for the regulation of the micro-economy to curb the further circulation of fatal counterfeit foods, and the prompt hiring of Environmental Health practitioners to oversee this.
The party said it was disappointed by the appointment of food patrollers on a part-time basis when the country has an avalanche of qualified food and environmental health practitioners who are unemployed.
“The ATM expresses its profound concern and strong condemnation of the government’s decision to hire temporary patrol agents to monitor food quality, while there is a substantial pool of qualified and unemployed environmental health practitioners capable of ensuring the safety of the country’s food supply,” the party said.