Two Zimbabweans shot dead in South Africa
By Govan Whittles
JOHANNESBURG – Diepsloot ward councillor Abraham Mabuke said he was shocked by the killing of two Zimbabwean men by another foreign national and pleaded with the community to remain calm.
The two men were allegedly shot dead by a Somalian shopkeeper after a brief argument outside his shop on Sunday night. Residents began protesting and looted 19 foreign-owned shops after the men were killed.
The councillor said the Somalian man was well respected and his arrest came as a shock. Dozens of people lined the street where the shooting happened and police maintained a high presence to avoid further conflict.
Meanwhile, foreign shop owners were under police protection at a local car wash after their businesses were looted. An Ethiopian man said he owned a grocery shop in Ext. 1 but feared it would be targeted and needed police to protect him.
“It looks like separation. The people do not rob local shops but only want to rob shops owned by foreigners.”
Residents said the killing of two Zimbabwean nationals and widespread looting of foreign shops were the result of frustrations over unemployment and poverty.
An eyewitness said after the shooting residents turned their attention towards foreign shop owners in the area and threatened to burn down their shops.
“There were many people surrounding his shop. Others were screaming and shouting that they would burn the shop.”
However he praised the police who responded very quickly. A small group of people gathered at the scene while police cleared the roads of burning tyres and rubbish from the protest. They were later dispersed by authorities.
The police’s Lungelo Dlamini said, “Our Tactical Response Team had dispersed the crowd. We will monitor the situation and see what happens.”
At the same time residents said xenophobia was still rife in their community. The informal settlement saw violent xenophobic attacks claim the lives of several foreign nationals in 2008. Five years after xenophobic violence claimed numerous lives in the area, resident Alpheas Daphazi said he still did not feel safe.
“They say go back home and remove Mugabe. What are you doing in our country? Why are you taking our jobs? Why are you taking our women?”
Daphazi was forced to cross the border because of violence in his native Zimbabwe. He told Eyewitness News that foreigners in the community face a daily onslaught of insults from the community.
With elections due to take place in Zimbabwe later this year, Daphazi said he would like to return home to cast his vote so he can escape the abuse of the Diepsloot community. Eye Witness News