At least 30 shops owned by foreign nationals have been looted in Coligny, in North West, since the outbreak of community protests, a local businessman said on Wednesday.
“I am left with nothing, they took everything in my shop, they even took the cups I used to drink water,” said Mahammed Rubel.
“It is heartbreaking to see your neighbour looting your shop. They took everything, including my clothes. People do not have mercy, you give them credit and help them, yet they loot your shop. People you know …”
Rubel is one of 30 Bangladeshi nationals who own shops in Tlhabologang. He said collectively, Bangladeshi business owners lost stock valued at more than R700 000.
“We do not know whether we will be able to recover from this great loss, we do not have means to start. We are depending on donations from food to clothes. We have nowhere to go. We are now staying at the mosque and hope our brothers in Johannesburg will help us.”
Rubel said they would monitor the situation in Coligny before deciding on their next move.
Shops were looted on April 24 when violence erupted in Coligny following the death of a 16-year-old boy, Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu.
Motlhomola died after two farmers, Pieter Doorewaard, 26, and Phillip Schutte 34, alleged they caught him stealing sunflowers at their employer’s field in Rietfontein, near the Scotland informal settlement. They ordered him to climb onto the back of a van, intending to hand him over to the police, but according to them, he jumped out of the moving van. He suffered neck injuries and later died on his way to hospital.
But an eyewitness told the police Matlhomola was thrown out of a moving van.
His death triggered a mass protest that left several houses and vehicles burnt, shops looted and damaged as the community demanded that his alleged killers be arrested.
The protest stopped after the two handed themselves over to police on April 25. But renewed violence erupted on May 8 when Doorewaard and Schutte were released on R5 000 bail each.
Furious residents torched three houses and police were forced to fire teargas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd that wanted to torch a house in Rietvlei.
Schools have been disrupted since the outbreak of the violence, but on Wednesday, pupils at one of the high schools returned to class.
The situation was calm on Wednesday. A police helicopter monitored the situation.
– African News Agency (ANA)