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Somali businesses burnt, looted

By unknown | May 21, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Elisha Molefe and Zinhle Mapumulo

Elisha Molefe and Zinhle Mapumulo

Seventy-eight people have been arrested for public violence in Tswelelang township in Makwassie district, North West, while the situation has calmed down in Mamelodi in Tshwane after a weekend of violence.

The community was holding a vigil last week hoping they would get answers the next day after handing over a memorandum to ward councillors.

But tensions spiralled out of control when a group of youngsters became impatient and started stoning cars on the N12 highway.

Several cars were damaged. The mob also attacked businesses owned by foreigners.

Provincial police spokesman Superintendent Louis Jacobs said several Somali shopkeepers lost groceries worth thousands of rands during the looting. It is not clear how many businesses were hit.

The unrest spilt over to Ottosdal, about 4km from Wolmaransstad.

According to Aaron Bodumela of the United Christian Democratic Party, a group of youngsters ran amok looting and burning shops rented by the Somalis at Letsopa village.

One policeman's house, which was rented to a Somali shopkeeper, was also burnt down.

The youngsters said they did not want Somalis in the area because they were occupying shops previously owned by locals.

Bodumela said he tried to calm the mob by telling them the building belongs to locals and not to Somalis. He said that to prevent the group from burning another building down he gave the group groceries worth R50000, which belonged to a Somalian who was renting the building.

No one has yet been arrested.

In a similar protest thousands of Mamelodi residents took to the streets at the weekend protesting poor service delivery and inadequate land distribution.

The march, which later became violent, took place in Tsamaya Road on Saturday morning and continued.

The residents barricaded streets with stones and burning tyres.

When police arrived they were pelted with stones, which forced the police to fire rubber bullets to disperse the angry mobs.


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