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'Xenophobic attacks will not happen'

Greater Gauteng Business Forum denied that its members have mobilised to carry out xenophobic attacks.

Two Zimbabweans were shot dead by a Somalian shopkeeper in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Economic Development MEC Nkosiphendule Kolisile said trade must be open to all people living in South Africa.

Over the past few days, shops owned by foreigners in areas like Diepsloot, Orange Farm and Sebokeng were looted by residents.

Kolisile said his budget speech on Wednesday would reveal the steps his department would taking to improve informal trade.

"Trading must be a space which is open for people to compete. It can't be allowed that it leads to violence.

This comes after the Greater Gauteng Business Forum on Tuesday denied that its members were mobilising to take part in xenophobic attacks in three Johannesburg townships.

But the group said foreign owned shops were bad for South Africa's economy.

The forum's Tshwane chairperson Mpane Baloyi said they do not want foreigners in townships.

"Our government should stop issuing asylum to these people [foreigners]. They should rather place them in camps. We don't want them on our streets, not because we hate them, but due to economic space. You have to understand unemployment is very high in South Africa."

SELECTIVE XENOPHOBIA

Police continued to keep a close eye on Diepsloot where residents told Eyewitness News the looting of foreign owned shops was an act of selective xenophobia.

More than 20 shops belonging to Somalis, Ethiopians and Pakistani's were left completely empty while the businesses of other foreigners were left touched.

At least 50 people were arrested during violent protests and looting in the township following the death of two Zimbabwean men who were killed.

The Zimbabweans were allegedly trying to rob the Somali shopkeeper who shot the two men.

Police denied that xenophobia is behind the violence which erupted, but residents painted a different picture saying certain foreign nationals were targeted.

Zimbabwean national Fungai Makota said she was attacked during the 2008 xenophobic violence but this time things have changed.

"This time its not the same because they only attacking the Somalis, Pakistanis and Ethiopians."

Meanwhile, David Mafethe who's lived in Diepsloot for 10 years said the looting was sparked by the murders, but there is some resentment towards certain foreigners.

"They look like they are short tempered people, they don't like the local people and they separate themselves from the community."

Many residents said they would welcome the foreigners back to the township but warned them to change their behaviour or face the same fate.

This comes after Gauteng Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros disagreed to a call by Diepsloot ward councillor for the army to be deployed following the looting.

At least 20 shops were looted and goods worth R150,000 was stolen.

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