Foreign shop owners 'battling to survive'

Foreign shop owners say they're still afraid to return to Soweto after they were attacked by looters.

A displaced foreign shop owner who has taken refuge in a house in Mayfair after the looting of his shop in Soweto in January 2015. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Foreign nationals have told Eyewitness News they're battling to survive and have received some help since the looting in Soweto.

A three bedroom house in Mayfair has become a safe haven for over 20 foreign nationals who lost everything in the unrest.

More than 20 blankets are stacked on the floors and the same numbers of toothbrushes sit in a cup in the only bathroom with a broken toilet.

The head of the house and the head of the Islamic Forum of Africa, Musharaf Hussain, says he had no choice but to take in his Bangladeshi brothers but the situation is getting worse.

"I need the masses, the president of South Africa to please try to help our brothers."

He claims they've lost everything including their passports.

WATCH: Over 30 displaced foreign shop owners have crammed into a 3 bedroom house in Mayfair.


The Gauteng Department of Economic Development says it's still working to reintegrate foreign business owners back into the Soweto community they were chased out from by looters last month.

But, the department says the general attitude on the ground is that local shop owners don't want to share the business market with foreign nationals.

Shop owners say they're still afraid to return to Soweto after they were attacked with many loosing thousands of rands worth of stock.

Hundreds of foreign shop owners were forced to flee the township to places of safety last month after their shops were looted and vandalised.

The unrest was sparked by the death of 14-year-old Siphiwe Mahori, who was allegedly shot by a foreign shop owner in Doornkop, who'd accused the teen of robbery.

The looting and violence quickly spread to other parts of Gauteng and claimed at least six lives in total, including that of a baby.

Economic Development MEC spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane says there were meetings set up between local and foreign shop owners but they were postponed at the last minute.

"We do have local traders that are willing to work with the foreign traders and are willing to explore areas of cooperation. On the other hand, we would be lying to ourselves if we think this was the general attitude."

She says the solution is hinged on local business owners and the community accepting the foreign shop owners back into Soweto.

Meanwhile, Somalian business owner Husain Muhammed says he has nothing left.

He says this is the third time his shop had been looted and he barely escaped with his life.