Foreign-owned shops in Soweto were under siege on Wednesday, August 14th as residents went on a looting spree.
Areas that have been affected so far include; Zola, Emdeni, Moletsane, White City, Zondi and Rockville. The assault on foreigners is reminiscent of a wave of xenophobic attacks that were unleashed in Soweto a year ago.
Police spokesman Capt Kay Makhubele confirmed that residents from a number of townships had been looting foreign-owned stores since Wednesday evening. “At the moment it is not clear what started this. We are yet to determine the wide scale of the looting, but we have members on the ground monitoring the situation,” he said.
Residents in White City claimed the looting was the community’s way of showing its anger at the attack on police officers in Johannesburg’s CBD more than two weeks ago.
Last week, law-enforcement personnel reclaimed control of the Johannesburg CBD through the “Okae Molao” operation, which saw seven assault rifles, three pistols and millions of rands worth of counterfeit goods being confiscated in the inner city and hundreds of undocumented foreigners were also arrested.
According to a resident of Soweto identified as Tshepo Lehohla, “how can people from out of this country attack our police officers? Police in other countries would not tolerate that. People are angry because of that,” he said.
Another resident said the looting was bound to happen. Moeketsi Tladi said he was not surprised at what was happening in his area. “People have been upset with what happened. It was only a matter of time,” he said.