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'You are looting poison‚' says Fikile Mbalula during Soweto visit

Soweto residents looted foreign-owned shops after claims that some of the shops might be selling fake and expired food.
Soweto residents looted foreign-owned shops after claims that some of the shops might be selling fake and expired food.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The ANC’s elections head‚ Fikile Mbalula‚ has asked the community of White City‚ Soweto‚ why they looted foreign-owned shops while claiming that they were selling expired and fake goods.

Mbalula visited the community on Thursday after a protest led to a violent looting spree in the area last week‚ which claimed two lives and resulted in injuries.

The protest was seemingly over allegations that foreign-owned shops were selling so-called fake foods‚ as well as food which had expired. But Mbalula said that looting a shop where such goods were allegedly sold didn’t make sense.

“You cant loot a shop where you claim people are selling expired or fake goods‚ because you are looting poison‚” he said.

Mbalula was accompanied by Gauteng economic development MEC Lebogang Maile‚ ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe and other regional and local party leaders.

He asked the community to remain vigilant against counterfeit and expired goods‚ but pleaded that they not take the law into their own hands.

“You‚ the people‚ are the first line of defence against illegal activities because you are the ones who consume dangerous products that are allegedly sold at these spaza shops.

“Our branches‚ communities and the whole of society must be able to unite and deal with that without violence‚” he said.

Mbalula said the ANC was against xenophobia and was adamant that anyone was allowed to do business provided it was legal.

“Government‚ in terms of the institutions of the state‚ law enforcement‚ we need to address this issue because most of the people who are trading here are illegal. They don’t have permits. But they have cheap goods. The state must then deal with those people‚” said Mbalula.

However‚ he admitted that there was also another conflict brewing in the township economy as foreigners had capacity to sells cheaper goods and had run locals out of business.

“The retail sector must come to the party and make sure that local economies are supported and they bloom again because they have totally collapsed. South Africans who were running spaza shops have gone under because they are not competitive‚” he said.

The ANC leaders also visited bereaved families and those who were injured in the violence.

Mbalula rubbished claims that the ANC was only visiting the families as part of electioneering.

“Whether there is an election or not‚ we have got to lend a hand. We are not going to stop doing what we are doing because there is an election coming up next year‚” he said.

One of the victims‚ Bongani Mzina‚ who was shot twice in the stomach‚ has since been discharged from hospital after undergoing two operations to remove the bullets.

He asked for protection as he continued to feel unsafe.

“The ANC must intervene in the safety and security of residents because we are dealing with people (foreign shop owners) who are not scared of killing‚” Mzila said.

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