Beware of sparking hate crimes against foreign nationals, police warn

South Africa Cape Town -2023-June-27 Spaza shops were forced to close in Bishop Lavis due to many incidents of extortion. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

South Africa Cape Town -2023-June-27 Spaza shops were forced to close in Bishop Lavis due to many incidents of extortion. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 27, 2023

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The Northern Cape police command has expressed concern about allegations circulating on social media and other platforms of hate speech directed at foreign national traders.

The row was sparked by recent media reports about allegedly poisoned fake products sold by foreign traders.

The police have pleaded with the public to take precautionary measures when buying goods. This includes checking expiry dates and reporting any suspicious goods to the police.

They also urged people to refrain from intimidating or instigating violence or hate crimes against foreign traders.

“It must be noted that the issue of fake, poisonous goods will be subject to police investigations if reported to the police. The police, in partnership with the local municipality environmental health inspectors and the Department of Home Affairs Immigrations Services, are heightening prevention approaches through multidisciplinary raids and inspections.”

The City of Joburg’s Public Safety MMC, Mgcini Tshwaku, has also taken a stand against the trading of fake food products, which has seen a spike in some areas.

Tshwaku met shop owners in the wake of the deaths of four children who allegedly consumed contaminated biscuits and juice they bought from foreign-run spaza shops.

The incident has sparked an outcry, with many calling for the closure of spaza shops and others suggesting stringent regulations be put in place to ensure the safety of consumers.

The Star recently reported about the African Transformation Movement’s concerns about toxic foods being sold in shops owned by undocumented foreign nationals.

Zama Ntshona, the party’s spokesperson, said: “This heartbreaking incident underscores the urgent need for stricter food safety regulations and rigorous inspections of all food items sold to our people, particularly in the townships, where such cases are becoming increasingly prevalent. It is the duty of our government to ensure the safety of its citizens and this extends to the food they consume.”

Following the tragic incident, Operation Dudula also vowed to permanently close foreign-owned spaza shops in Naledi, Soweto.

Several videos shared on social media showed communities taking a stand, with many checking the expiry dates of products sold to locals and others closing down shops.

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