Xenophobic Soweto shop lootings: Death toll rises to 3 as violence spreads

Xenophobic Soweto shop lootings: Death toll rises to 3 as violence spreads

- Gauteng police have confirmed that the death toll has risen to three after the latest spate of xenophobic shop lootings in Soweto

- Tensions in White City rose after residents accused foreign shop owners of selling expired and counterfeit goods and engaging in unsafe practices in their shops

- Community members took to the streets in protest action which quickly turned into violent looting of foreign-owned shops, 27 people have been arrested

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Gauteng police have confirmed that the death toll rose to three after the latest spate of xenophobic looting of foreign-owned shops in White City, Soweto. Police also confirmed that the violence and looting had spread to Daveyton, Benoni.

Tensions between residents and foreign shop-owners boiled over on Wednesday after residents accused certain shops of selling expired and counterfeit goods, having uncompetitive prices and engaging unsafe practices.

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Frustrated residents took to the streets to express their grievances and started looting foreign-owned shops, the looting quickly turned violent and deadly. Three people were killed and a fourth person was taken to hospital with a serious gunshot wound.

Briefly.co.za gathered that police have arrested 27 members of the community, two have been charged with murder. Police also confiscated at least two firearms. Authorities expect more arrests to be made in connection with the incident.

City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and his mayoral committee member for public safety, Michael Sun, rushed to the scene to try and calm members of the community. Mashaba and Sun were greeted by gunshots.

The department of health said it was in the process of investigating claims by residents that shops were selling expired and sub-par products. The department was also worried by reports which claimed that some shop owners lived, bathed, slept and smoked in their shops.

TimesLive.co.za reported that Sun called on all shop owners to ensure that they did not stock any expired stock and to remove any and all expired and or counterfeit goods from their shelves.

Sun assured the community that the Johannesburg Metro Police Department and the department of health would be conducting regular checks on shops in the area to ensure business-owners did not engage in bad business practices.

Meanwhile, some residents claim the protests were not sparked by fears of bad business practices but were in retaliation for the alleged shooting of a teenager by a foreign shop-owner last week.

Citizen.co.za reported that the EFF in Johannesburg lashed out against law enforcement agencies for failing to address the concerns of residents.

The EFF’s regional chairperson Musa Novela said the community had been dumped into a crisis because authorities failed to properly investigate or address concerns about food quality by community members.

Novela said some shops were selling food which was produced with dangerous chemicals. He said he came across a loaf of bread which did not get wet even when water was poured over it.

Novela added that people had been getting sick in the community and were now blaming these shops.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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