'Xenophobic looting must stop'

Foreign business owners have been targeted in areas including Soweto, Kagiso, Alexandra and Langlaagte.

FILE: Inside a factory looted and burnt in Alexandra. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Local businesspeople in Alexandra have come out in support of foreign shop owners in their area, pleading for a stop to looting and violence.

For more than a week now, foreign business owners have been targeted in areas including Soweto, Kagiso and Langlaagte, and at least six people have been killed.

On Sunday night community members tried to loot a foreign-owned shop in Alexandra but police rushed to the scene and managed to disperse the crowd.

Zuzu Mpala owns a spaza shop on 8th Avenue in Alexandra and says South Africans should not turn their backs on foreigners because they too are African and have families to feed.

"We should stop having this hatred because they are foreigners. We are one, we share the same blood."

Somali shop owner Joseph Abira says he fears for his life and believes even those who have been friendly towards him in the past could turn their backs on him.

"When this kind of things happen, even your friends, they can come and do whatever they like."

Some foreigners here have warned that tensions are still rising and are worried that the violence may spill into their area

The clashes broke out after 14-year-old Siphiwe Mahori, who was accused of robbery, was shot in Doornkop last week.

More than 160 people were arrested last week and at the weekend when looters swept through the township, targeting foreign-owned shops.

Since then, more looting incidents have been reported in Langlaagte and Alexandra.