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Heavy cost of xenophobic mobs

Several foreign shop owners in Jeppestown were yesterday counting the cost of the destruction left behind in the aftermath of their shops being attacked on Sunday night.

Two car dealerships in Kaal and Jules streets were among those damaged, where over 50 cars were burnt at night.

The overnight violence escalated to yesterday morning when more shops were ransacked by a mob of residents.

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Dealership owner Kennedy Orji estimated his losses as a result of burnt cars to over R3m.

"I sell used cars and 30 cars that were my bread and hard-earned investment were burnt to ashes and I don't know why," said Orji.

Orji said he was woken up by friends and security who alerted him that his car dealership was going up in flames.

"My heart broke as I helplessly watched everything perishing into flames.

"I'm lost for words and aggrieved because my own black brothers and sisters did this cruel deed to me."

He said he had been in SA for many years and started the car-selling business from scratch.

Another shop owner, Micky Jacobs, said: "All we want at this point is South Africa sanctioned, because until that is done these xenophobic and criminal attacks will proceed."

Jacobs said he was earning a living by running his own shop to support his family.

"South Africans need to remember that during apartheid neighbouring countries fought with them, our fathers fought for them.

"We are Africans who are being chased out of our own African country because of unnecessary hate and unproven allegations," he said.

Jacobs said it was becoming a norm to use Nigerians and Pakistanis as scapegoats for criminality.

"We have been here for years with legal documentation and using our hands to create business but South Africans don't want to learn from us, they want to be lazy and use us as an excuse for it."

By mid-morning, a local liquor store owner started loading all his stock on a truck. A police Nyala with armed officers stood by. The shop was not looted during the violence.

"I think we are the lucky ones who did not have our place burnt down," he said.

Resident and shop owner in the area Lerato Peete said she was "ashamed to be called a South African".

"In fact, I denounced my South African connection on this day. How is it possible that a black person can be foreign in Africa. Who is a foreigner in Africa?

"My mother was an activist, my father was an activist, because we didn't have a place to call our own. I was born out of South Africa." - Additional reporting by Iavan Pijoos

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