Get out or be pushed, foreigners told

ILLEGAL foreigners owning shops in Ekurhuleni have until Monday to close shop or face the wrath of local business people.

At a meeting held in Katlehong yesterday, members of the Ekurhuleni Business and Enterprise Forum warned that they would force out anyone found to be an illegal shop owner in the area.

Their concern is about the "uncontrolled mushrooming of illegally run, foreign-owned businesses".

They allege that foreign business owners including Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Somalis were trading illegally and putting locals out of business.

Forum members also complained that their previous efforts to get the government to intervene have been unsuccessful. These include last month's march to Premier Nomvula Mokonyane's office where they delivered a memorandum of demands.

Part of the demands was that the premier should "immediately stop the mushrooming of uncontrolled and illegal businesses owned by foreigners" in the area.

"Failure of which we shall have no other alternative but to take the necessary and immediate steps to avoid further prejudice," the memorandum read.

Yesterday, forum spokesman Baznaar Moloi said while the government was shutting down local-owned businesses such as crèches, salons and spaza shops located in residential areas, foreign-owned businesses were left to operate.

Moloi said: "They call it a rezoning process, but the problem is that it has eyes (to see who is a local business person or foreigner)."

Moloi said warning letters were already being sent to various foreign-owned stalls which the forum suspected were running illegally.

"The message is clear, we want them out, they have until Monday," he said.

Somali shop owner Mike Adimasu, 25, denied being a threat to local businesses.

He said: "It's not only locals who are having a bad year in business, I and my brothers are also suffering."

Mokonyane's spokesman Xoli Mngambi has sent a warning to those intending to take the law into their own hands.

Mngambi said the premier office's investigations had shown that it was local citizens who were selling their stalls to foreigners.

"The country has laws, and if people are here illegally we have measures in place to deport them," Mngambi said.

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