South African gangs loot Somali shops in Atteridgeville | Diplomat News Network
Tensions flared as Somali shop owners in Brazzaville in Atteridgeville and residents clashed on Thursday.
Community members stood outside shops swearing and hurling stones at passing trucks hired to remove the goods from the stores.
During the altercation between shop owners and residents, six stores in the area were broken into and looted.
Station commander of the Atteridgeville SAPS, Brigadier Fred Kekana, said in a meeting with shop owners last Friday they had advised them to close up temporarily, citing possible tension that could spill over from the Soweto attacks.
“We told them to close up for their own safety but within an hour of that meeting they insisted on reopening.”
He said they then warned the shopkeepers to close up should there be any rumour of a pending attack.
“We have assisted them by ensuring there is visible policing constantly. There are many foreign shops around here. We don’t have enough manpower to protect all of them,” said Kekana.
The station commander said even though they had tried their best they were also dealing with land-grabs and still had to provide services to the rest of Atteridgeville.
He said the entire issue was started as 200 illegal shacks were demolished by metro police and 100 from the group decided to loot the nearby shops in retaliation.
“They wanted to speak to the councillor and when they were blocked they turned on the nearby shops.”
While police kept watch as shop owners loaded up stock, residents pounded their vehicles with stones as they were escorted to safety.
Kekana said another problem was that four to five shops were attacked at once.
“The truth of the matter is we are over-stretched.”
Arab Hassan said they were helping his cousin move his stock because he had been attacked four months before the current attacks. “They assaulted him badly. He had to spend amonth in Kalafong hospital.
By evening a covered-up body of a young boy lay in a passage.
Distraught family members refused to speak to the media and residents threatened to harm reporters if they did not leave.
Meanwhile, two Somalians were apparently injured and taken to Kalafong hospital for treatment. Ibrahim Shuriye, head of the Social Service Somali Association of SA, said: “Two Somalian shop owners were beaten and some shot by the community.”