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Parly committee concerned after threats against KZN foreign shop owners

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police is concerned over what it terms the undertones of xenophobic sentiments.

Chairperson of the local business association addressing the media following a meeting with KZN Premier Willies Mchunu. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police has raised concerns about threats against foreign shop owners in KwaZulu-Natal’s northern townships, calling on officers and intelligence units to be on high alert.

The committee released a statement ahead of Thursday’s deadline for foreign shop owners to close their businesses and leave the townships.

The Northern Region Business Association sent the foreign business owners a letter earlier in May, setting the deadline and complaining that they are allegedly unregistered and don’t employ locals.

KZN Premier Willies Mchunu called an urgent meeting on Tuesday night, which resolved that all businesses will be registered and regulated. But the local business association hasn’t withdrawn the deadline.

Mchunu might have managed to bring together both warring factions in one room on Tuesday night, but the local business owners say they can’t promise to allow their foreign counterparts to trade beyond Thursday (17 May), until they get a mandate from community members.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police is concerned over what it terms the undertones of xenophobic sentiments.

Committee chair Francois Beukman said: “We’re concerned about the threats against foreign shop owners. We dissuade any kind of threats of violence against any persons within the borders of the country.”

The committee has welcomed the intervention by the provincial government. But it wants the police to work together with intelligence structures to ensure that the threats on foreigner nationals are crushed before they can be implemented.

WATCH: Foreign businessmen told to leave KwaZulu-Natal

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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