Victims dispel xenophobia claims after looting of local shops in Maboneng
News / 10 September 2019, 10:00am / Chulamanco Mahamba , Odwa Mkentane and Sisonke Mlala
Business owners of stores that were looted on Sunday at Maboneng, Jeppestown, claim that the looting was not xenophobia-related as the shops are owned by South Africans.
On Sunday 20 people were arrested following the shutdown of Malvern, Jeppestown and Cleveland, which also saw several shops vandalised and set on fire, an attack believed to have been carried out by hostel dwellers.
During the chaos, almost all the stores in the Access City building in Maboneng were damaged, with shop windows smashed.
A South African man was stabbed and killed in the chaos.
The father of the owner of Events Restorshop in Access City, Anaan Alsaafeen, said he was inside his son’s shop when it was looted.
The Kazakhstan national said he recognised one of the looters as he ate breakfast at the spaza shop in the morning with a group of men who had come for a meeting called by former IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
“I asked them ‘where do you come from?’, KwaZulu-Natal they told me and that they arrived in the morning. Now when the looters came, they came with him,” he said.
The looters, Alsaafeen said, stole the store’s cash register with money inside, a computer, sound system and food.
“The only reason why I am still alive is because there were other people who knew me and told the looters not to touch the shop but they had already taken the stuff,” he said.
Alsaafeen said all of the stores in Access City were owned by South African citizens, including his son’s shop.
“This is not about foreigners or anything or work. It is just criminal behaviour and thieves,” he said.
The founder of Lufi-D, also in Access City, and Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s daughter-in-law, Fortunate Khoza, said she received a frantic call from one of her neighbours that her store was getting vandalised.
“I was there within five minutes of receiving the call and there were still a few guys who were part of the whole thing and they were threatening us and said: ‘You can’t do anything to us and we’re still going to vandalise’,” she said.
Khoza said her store, which sells traditional attire, was completely cleaned out with only two chairs and a computer left.
“We are talking about stock worth almost R150 000 gone,” she said.
Khoza has since closed her Maboneng store as well as her store in the Fashion District, in the CBD, until further notice.
The store manager of Expansion Music, a CD and record shop, who asked to be anonymous, said he did not know the store was looted until yesterday.
“They took a box of CDs, our credit card machine and there was a DVD player here so that is gone,” he said.
The Johannesburg Inner City Partnership chairperson Ishmael Mkhabela said he did not believe investors in the area would be chased away by the vandalism and looting.
“Investors are risk-takers by their own nature so while the negative impact of the criminal actions cannot be ruled out, I still believe that anybody who is an entrepreneur or investor will always see an opportunity even within the chaos,” he said.
Meanwhile ministers yesterday conferred with business leaders and diplomats to tackle the recent spate of violence against foreign nationals and its effect on the economy and international relations.