Most foreign shop owners in Orange-Farm, South of Johannesburg went back to the township to trade since violent unrests broke out last month. Scores of foreigners were forced to flee when they were attacked and their stores looted.
The attacks came shortly after the foreigners allegedly shot and killed people in the Vaal. It was rumored that they (foreigners) shot and killed a seven-year-old child in Zone 3 Sebokeng. According to the community members, foreigners earlier shot and killed two people in Zone7, one in Evaton. Then community members took the law into their own hands and looted the Ethopian and Somalian shops.
Misplaced migrants were accommodated at Chris Hani local community hall in the area before being moved to the Extension 1 Community Hall. Others camped outside Orange-Farm police station. Some community members, South African Council of Churches and South African Police Service has now helped immigrants integrate back into the community.
Sammy Motaung, who is a community member said, “It was not a xenophobic attack, the community got angry after they (foreigners) shot and killed an innocent child. The other thing these foreigners they don’t treat us well in our country, they treat us as if we are foreigners”. Motaung added by saying the community does not hold grudges against immigrants. “To prove that it was not xenophobic attack, Zimbabwean shops were not attacked or looted,” explained Motaung.
Madla Mbhatha echoed Motaung’s sentiments, “It is nice to see them coming back to our communities but they come alright. Most of them are carrying unlicensed firearms and police are aware of that. If they want to be united with us, they must hand over their unlicensed firearms to the police. We are staying with Zimbabweans and Zambians around here without any problem.” Phindi Nhlapo said she is happy to see them around in the township. “Some of us were worried when their shops were looted. The shops were distant from us and we were forced to walk for a couple of minutes before we reached them, but now everything went to normal,” she said.
A Somalian shop owner Ibrahim Tefera said the reason why their prices are cheap is because they are getting the stock from the same companies as everyone. “We are selling things cheap because we don’t want a big profit,” he said. Tefera said they are glad that the community has welcomed them back. He concluded: “It is nice to come back and the community welcomed us back. We will make sure that we work hand-in-a-glove with them.”