Foreigners blamed for violence in Soweto

The Soweto Business Association says foreigners wanting to run shops in townships do so at their own risk.

FILE: Burundi national Harayandi Moustapha (left) watches as looters carry out what is left of his spaza shop and its contents. It was first looted and burnt the night before. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - An organisation representing local business owners has issued a stern warning to foreigners, saying if they want to run tuckshops or spaza shops in townships they do so at their own risk.

Xenophobic violence flared up again in Doornkop in Soweto on Thursday after a man was seriously hurt when looters petrol bombed his shop before raiding it.

Police have confirmed nine people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.

Spokesperson Kay Makhubela says the group will appear in the Protea Magistrates Court on Monday on public violence charges.

"We had arrested nine people after we learnt that there were parts of the group going around in a convoy instructing the foreign shop owners to close their shops and also throwing petrol bombs at them."

Makhubela has also called on anyone with information to come forward.

"There was one foreign shop owner who was burnt severely by a petrol bomb. He was taken to hospital and we're still monitoring the situation."

Police say locals told foreigners to leave the areas and looting then spread to other suburbs.

The Soweto Business Association's Mphuthi Mphuthi is blaming foreigners for Thursday's violence.

He says one of four foreigners fired shots into the air with an illegal firearm while a store was being looted.

"We are going to have discussions with them when they have closed their shops. We understand that they are coming into the township for business and nothing else."

While no one was injured, four foreign nationals now face a charge of being in possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Mphuthi claims that during a meeting with locals in Orlando, a person received a call warning that foreigners were going from shop to shop looking for South Africans to assault.

Meanwhile, a group of Bangladeshi men have told Eyewitness News they are still battling to survive after being driven out of the townships where they had set up stores.

Many say the police have not protected them nor have helped them rebuild their lives.