Shops looted during protest

STRESSED OUT: Mamush Waphithe had to close all three of his shops due to the threat of looting. Picture: YOLISWA SOBUWA
STRESSED OUT: Mamush Waphithe had to close all three of his shops due to the threat of looting. Picture: YOLISWA SOBUWA

KwaDwesi businesses owned by foreign nationals targeted

A community protest over the new ward councillor in KwaDwesi extension turned violent when a group of youths started looting shops owned by foreigners.

One shop was completely ransacked and an attempt to loot a second one was stopped in the nick of time by the police.

In the early hours of yesterday, KwaDwesi Extension residents blocked the Lixolile ilizwe road, angry over infrastructure job projects in the area, which they claim were only give to relatives of Ward 36 councillor Nomonde Mhlobiso.

They also claimed that Mhlobiso was not their councillor of choice and was thus imposed on them.

A group of community leaders eventually met ANC branch leaders.

While the meeting was taking place, a group of opportunists took advantage of the situation and went on a rampage, looting a shop owned by a Somali national.

Police reinforcements were called and they arrived in a chopper and four police vans.

They advised shop owners to close their shops for their own safety.

Mamush Waphithe, 26, who owns three shops in the area, said he was saddened by the situation.

“I had to close all my shops. I was fortunate because the police responded in time,” he said.

“A group of youngsters came here demanding to buy a 2-litre Coke with R9. When I refused, they started banging the door trying to push their way inside. “I was so scared for my life. The worst part is that it is people I know. “Last week, they took stuff to the value of R37 000 and I had just fixed the shop. “This is really stressing me out.”

The owner of the shop that was completely ransacked left the area soon after the attack and could not be tracked down. Meanwhile, the protesting residents accused Mhlobiso of making decisions without involving the residents.

“We never wanted her as our councillor, ” the residents said.

“She allowed for the construction to take place in this ward, but jobs were given to her friends. “The project was never introduced to the people and we want the recruitment to be transparent to everyone. “Westville and KwaDwesi Extension SMMEs have not benefited from the project and we are still going to block the streets with burning tyres. “We also want to know what happened to the rectification of houses, because our houses are in a terrible state. ”

They said they wanted DA provincial leader Athol Trollip to come and solve their problems. Ward 36 branch secretary, Vuyiseka Mani – speaking for Mhlobiso – said there was no way the community members were going to want Mhlobiso as their councillor because they were not ANC members.

“We had a meeting with community members. We expected them to raise the issues of housing rectification, but they didn’t,” Mani said.

“However rectification will soon be done. “On the issue of the ward councillor, the ward was won by the ANC and they are against Mhlobiso because they are from opposition parties.”

Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said while community members were waiting for their representatives, who were in a meeting with branch leaders, a small group of people helped themselves to goods in Somali-owned shops.

“There were three shops that were attacked in the area. Public order police were called,” he said. “We are waiting to hear if the shop owners will open a case.”

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