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Operation Fiela angers locals in Mitchells Plain

Shop owners expressed their anger at having to let their customers stand in long queues during the raid.

FILE: Police along with Mitchells Plain community members carry out an anti-crime blitz in Tafelsig, Rocklands, Portlands & Westridge on Thursday 30 April 2015. Picture Monique Mortlock/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Raids aimed at cleaning up the Mitchells Plain town centre have left some shop owners very upset.

Thursday's raid in the area forms part of Operation Fiela, an initiative backed by the military, launched several weeks back in the wake of xenophobic violence.

As soon as shops in Mitchell's Plain's town centre open its doors for business, law enforcement officials surrounded the perimeter to ensure no one gets in or out without being checked.

Soldiers and police officers guarded every exit and entry point.

Hundreds of irate shoppers expressed their anger at having to stand in long queues to get to a different section of town.

"I've had enough of being thrown from one corner to another to get my shopping done."

Mitchell's Plain police's Brigadier Cass Goolam said the operation follows an outcry from the public demanding more be done to curb crime in the town centre.

"We've been giving attention to the centre. We needed to consolidate action in a way that would result in an impact."

GOVT UNDER FIRE FOR OPERATION FIELA

Government has come under fire for the operation with some saying it compares foreigners to 'rubbish'.

The People's Coalition Against Xenophobia's Stephen Faulkner said 'Operation Fiela' is a Sesotho name which means 'to sweep' and this doesn't reflect on what government claims it's doing to tackle the problem.

Lawyers for Human Rights' Wayne Ncube said the people who were detained during the operation have been constantly denied the right to legal representation.

So far, more than 700 people have been arrested during various raids, and this has drawn criticism from a number of NGOs.