Civil rights movement Not In My Name International is calling on South African citizens to peacefully close down foreign-owned spaza shops in their areas.
The movement highlighted how poor communities, especially in townships, were surrounded by illegal spaza shops ran by foreign nationals who sold counterfeit goods.
The movement said it was saddened by the death of children who allegedly ate “energy biscuits” from a spaza shop belonging to a foreign national.
At least five children in Soweto and Ethembeni in West Rand died after they allegedly bought and ate snacks from foreign-owned shops.
“We wish to take this opportunity to commend the community of Delmas in Mpumalanga, who took it upon themselves on Monday to close down spaza shops belonging to foreign nationals. This is a very progressive step that must be supported and adopted as a programme of action by all forward-thinking South Africans,” said the movement's spokesperson, Mo Senne.
The movement called upon all South Africans, especially those in townships, to peacefully help foreign spaza shop owners to pack and leave their communities.
“This will not only save lives, but it will also return back the township economy to its rightful owners,” said Senne.
“It has become apparent that we are on our own as South African citizens. The government of the day is standing on the sidelines, observing as mere spectators the ongoing biological warfare on South African bodies through the sale of food not fit for human consumption.
“The government’s hands have blood stains. They are complicit in the continuous killing of black people in the townships through the consumption of fake and expired food. They are complicit because they have failed to manage our porous borders, exposing us to dangerous terrorists disguised as shop owners; they have failed to enforce existing laws, and they have failed to prioritise the well-being of ordinary South Africans,” said Senne.
“Next year we must vote better. But for now, we must #CloseThemAll.”
Asked if the movement was concerned that critics might label them xenophobic, Senne said: “How they view us is the least of our concerns. They just need to be compliant with health regulations, and everything will be fine.”
Meanwhile, the South African Spaza Association (Sasa) said the latest death of children in Soweto had impacted small businesses.
“Our organisation is dying because our members could not compete with illicit goods and low prices from foreign-owned shops,” said Sasa deputy president Michael Ramothopo.