Johannesburg – A group of people clashed with foreign nationals, throwing bricks at them, Johannesburg CBD on Wednesday.
One Somali national was beaten up in the skirmishes that lasted several minutes.
“Come here…we will show you how to get beaten up..” one of the locals shouted at foreign nationals in SeSotho.
A bakkie parked along the street was damaged.
The Somalian eventually managed to flee as Metro police arrived on the scene.
Stores along several busy Johannesburg streets including Jeppe, Bree and Sauer were closed.
Bangladeshi shop owner, Sheikh Syed said he received calls from fellow shop owners that people were planning to loot their stores.
“We decided to close and watch what might unfold. Nothing has happened so far, we’re being careful because people were killed in Soweto, and now it’s happening in Durban,” he said as he stood outside his grocery store on Bree Street earlier on Wednesday.
He said he arrived in South Africa five years ago to seek a better life. There were not enough jobs for everyone in Bangladesh, he said.
“We came in peace. I am sure South Africans would be treated well in my country. We are here to make a living, and not to take away people’s jobs.”
Syed said most foreigners stayed in South Africa for years and didn’t travel home because they did not have permits to live in the country, and as a result fear being arrested by authorities upon trying to re-enter.
“Government needs to tighten the laws. If there’s complaints that we don’t pay tax, then fix the system and make it easy for us to trade and provide jobs,” Syed said.
Metro police officers were visible as they patrolled the streets just before lunchtime on Wednesday.
Security guard Siphiwe Mhlanga of Red Alert security company was stationed along Sauer Street and said shopkeepers had closed shops at around 10am.
“I don’t know about other parts of the city, but there were no attempts to loot shops around here. There’s police patrolling in cars as you can see.”
Xenophobic attacks broke out in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, over a week ago. At least 74 people have been arrested after police launched a clampdown on attacks on foreign nationals and their businesses. – ANA