By Kimberly Mutandiro
After a four-year-old child was found dead and mutilated at Spaarwater Dam in Duduza last week, community members went on the rampage on Sunday. They looted Shangaan shops, blaming them for ritual killings.
For the past week Mozambican and Shangaan shop owners have been targeted daily with community members looting their shops. Some residents protested on the streets against Shangaan people, burning tyres and blocking roads.
But police say there is no evidence supporting the allegations against the Shangaan or foreign shop owners.
Nkosi Kubheka had been renting out a small shack to a Mozambican immigrant who had been using it to operate a tuckshop on his premises. “The death [of the child] has nothing to do with the attacks on the Shangaans. Some community members have been long planning to chase them out after they had dealt with the Somalis.”
“We have been told that the community wants to clean out all of the Shangaans. It is unfortunate because l have been getting a reasonable amount of money from renting the shack out,” he said. Kubheka said his tenant had been paying him a R1,000 monthly.
He said community members had come to his premises in broad daylight on Wednesday. They opened the roof of the tuckshop and cleaned it out.
While he was saddened by the circumstances, he says he was afraid to have a dispute with his community. “Here in Duduza, no one stands in the community’s way. If they say Shangaans must go, they must go. Or else one will die trying to defend them. The sad part is that local people cannot even run businesses. Yet they want to chase out all foreign shop owners.”
Police said the violence had been a result of a culture in the Duduza community of blaming all misfortunes on foreigners (yet many Shangaans are South African).
“We have noted with great concern that some members of the Duduza Community have got a tendency of taking their frustrations out on foreign shop owners by committing certain acts of criminality,“ SAPS spokesperson for Duduza, Captain Harry Manaka said. “We are still investigating the death of the child and have not made any arrests in that regard.”
“However three people are in custody for public violence, malicious damage to property, breaking and entering, and theft following attacks on foreign shop owners. We are also doing our best to keep the situation under control,” he said.
Manaka said police had also rescued a South African man who had been attacked by residents who believed that he was one of the suspects in the child’s murder. Residents also vandalised a police officer’s house, accusing the officer for accepting a bribe and releasing the man.
Most of the the Mozambican and Shangaan shops are closed after the owners ran away fearing for their lives.
A resident who gave his name as Sakile expressed some of the prejudices of his community. “This thing of ritual killings came with the Shangaans. They do it to make muthi for their businesses. If they return to their countries it will stop.”
He continued: “The problem is that our government creates a free environment for these foreigners. They are not afraid to commit crime here in South Africa because our jails have food and beds which they do not find in their home countries. If government worked with us we would soon have them all out of our country.”
Another community member Mduduzi (only first name given) said: “Foreigners come here and use their muthi to open businesses. If they do not kill babies they take our women and impregnate them. They flaunt money and expensive cars in front of our women. Some of them are going around in the latest double cabs and golf cars from this witchcraft. Enough is enough.”
But some Mozambican shop owners said the community members were just jealous of their success. “Us foreigners are hard workers. When the locals see us succeed they become jealous. If they think we use muthi to succeed why do they not also look for the muthi,” said Lucas Cume. “The real muthi for success is hard work.” He had been operating his shop since 2011.
Cumbe says he was attacked while he was offloading stock into his shop on Wednesday. The looters took most of the stock but he managed to escape. He says police told he and other shopkeepers to close their shops while they handled the situation.
John Sibande, who is a South African citizen from Bush Sibande, said residents also took all his stock. Sibande said that community members ill-treated Shangaan people regardless of the fact that some of them are South African citizens.
Resident Themba Mnguni said, ”A Shangaan is a Shangaan. As long as anyone speaks a Krrr Krrr language [foreign language] the community regards them as Shangaans.”
However some people told GroundUp that if the Shangaan shops were closed it would be unfortunate for the community which had now begun to rely on them after Somalis were chased out of Duduza.
Published originally on GroundUp .
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