Business owners threaten xenophobic violence
Small business owners from Ekurhuleni have warned of xenophobic violence if the Gauteng government does not act.
“There is fertile ground for violent xenophobic attacks to happen here in Ekurhuleni,” spokesperson for the disgruntled group, Baznaar Moloi said.
“I am sure the [Gauteng] premier Nomvula Mokonyane or the government does not want to see that.”
Earlier in the day, business owners, religious groups and residents from Ekurhuleni marched in Johannesburg against foreign nationals running illegal businesses in their townships.
Moloi said a memorandum stating their grievances was delivered to the premier’s office and a response was expected in two weeks’ time.
Mokonyane’s spokesperson Xoli Mngambi, confirmed the department had received the memorandum and said it would respond within the set deadline.
Moloi said the disgruntled group did want to take the law into its own hands.
“But what do you expect people to do if they are going hungry because foreigners are running down their businesses?”
He said the march was not inspired by the recent xenophobic threats in Alexandra in Gauteng where foreign nationals where warned to vacate Reconstruction and Development Programme houses.
Moloi said the Gauteng government had promised to deal with the illegal businesses last year.
“Last year, when we reported this issue, there were about 154 shops and now with government not doing anything we are seeing about 400 shops or more.”
He said the group had been in talks with an Ekurhuleni councillor who was avoiding them.
Moloi said foreign business owners who had permits and met the health and safety standards were welcome to continue with their businesses in their townships.
“Only those who are taking houses from old people and using them to run their businesses ... these businesses we don’t want. Some are even selling drugs in our communities,” he said.
“Some of them are selling people expired goods and we can’t have that.”
He said it was unfair for government to set strict bylaws for local business owners but not for foreign nationals.
Some of the townships affected by illegal businesses were Tembisa, Vosloorus, Katlehong and Thokoza, Moloi said.—Sapa