'Foreign shop owners are easy targets'
Riah Phiyega's office says foreign shop owners are targeted because they travel with cash.
JOHANNESBURG - The office of National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says the reason why foreign nationals are being targeted by corrupt and fake police officers is because they have not made use of banks and still choose to travel with large sums of money every day.
Eyewitness News has received reports from Chinese, Pakistani, Somali and Egyptian shop owners at the Dragon City shopping complex who claim they are being pulled over and robbed of their daily earnings every day while driving home.
Earlier this month, two syndicates working with members of the South African Police Service and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) were shut down by the National Investigation Unit for targeting foreign-owned businesses.
Eighteen people, including 11 officials from Sars, four police officers and two officers from the Gauteng traffic police were arrested in connection with robberies in the Johannesburg CBD, Langlaagte and Randburg in which foreign business owners had been targeted.
Phiyega's spokesperson Solomon Makgale says while an internal investigation is underway, the shop owners must find safer ways of transporting their money.
The outcry from shop owners follows the murders of a Chinese couple at the weekend who were shot dead while returning home after work.
Riyan Li and his wife Wiehong were shot multiple times at the intersection of Main Reef Road and Church Street in Fordsburg on Sunday evening.
An Egyptian shop owner believes they were shot for refusing to hand over the day's profits.
Police say the investigation is still at an early stage and no arrests have been made.
Officials from a company managing security at several Chinese malls in the Johannesburg CBD have described the police's treatment of foreign shop owners as heavy-handed and suspicious.
It's prompted them to provide private escorts to clients who fear they'll be robbed by authorities.
Enormia Security Services has been contracted to help shop owners interact with the South African Revenue Service and deal with cases of intimidation allegedly at the hands of police.
General manager Jose Jordaan says his clients usually get intimidated once police find cash on them.
"It's horrific. The moment they find cash on the people, all hell breaks loose. On that particular day, if I wasn't present with that particular client, he probably would've lost all his money."