MEC calls for more arrests
WESTERN Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato has called on police to arrest more suspects responsible for attacks on foreign shop owners on the Cape Flats.
There have been renewed attacks on foreign nationals in Western Cape and Free State in the past few days. Rights groups have warned that South Africa was on the brink of boiling point and in need of urgent action to prevent the loss of lives.
In 2008, the country experienced a wave of xenophobic violence during which many foreigners were displaced, attacked or killed, while their businesses were adversely affected in incidents that included arson and looting.
Speaking to Sowetan yesterday Plato said: "The police must take control of the situation before it is out of their grasp. They need to make more arrests."
He added: "I will also meet provincial police commissioner General Arno Lamoer and I will ask him to supply me with more information on the failure of certain officers to adequately address the events last week."
Plato will also convene a meeting later this week with Somali shopkeepers in a bid to address their concerns.
He said he had been told by residents that many foreign shop owners did not use proper banking and thus exposed themselves to criminal elements.
Director of People against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Pasop) Braam Hanekom said the spike in attacks and looting of shops was a concern.
Hanekom said his organisation was also concerned that Lamoer did not continued with the safety forum that his predecessor, Mzwandile Petros, had initiated.
The forum aimed to pre-empt and deter attacks against foreigners.
Hanekom said Pasop would meet Lamoer to try to persuade him to continue with the forum.
Hanekom says the surge in deportations sanctioned by Home Affairs and the use of police in raids on foreigners have fuelled mistrust.
He said: "It is also extremely disturbing to receive reports that local police did not assist the spaza owners until two hours after the attacks."
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said nine suspects had been arrested in connection with the attacks on foreign shop owners in Valhalla Park .
But eight suspects have been released because of lack of evidence.
A suspect is due to appear in court on August 30.