Protesters target shops owned by expats in South Africa
Police also confirm 2 people shot dead during violent protests against decision to replace city mayor in capital Pretoria.
Hassan Isilow - JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Shops owned by foreigners have been looted during third day of protests against a decision to replace the city mayor of South African capital Pretoria, a Somali community leader told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
Amir Sheikh, chairman of the Somali community board, said several shops belonging to Somalis and others foreign nationals had been looted Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
“We are surprised why protesters have suddenly turned against foreign-owned businesses when the actual cause of the protest was the replacement of the city mayor,” Sheikh told Anadolu Agency.
He said over 100 such shops had been looted since protests began Monday in the townships of Mamelodi, Atteridgeville, Ga-Rankuwa and Mabopane, all located to the north of Pretoria.
“We have managed to help 300 of our nationals to evacuate their goods for safekeeping in Pretoria west,” he said via telephone.
Police confirmed in a short statement Wednesday that looting continued in parts of the city overnight and early Wednesday.
The law enforcement body also confirmed that two people had been killed in Mamelodi township Tuesday night during ongoing unrest.
Police also said 40 people were arrested Tuesday and Wednesday for public violence, theft and possession of stolen property.
Local television showed images of people looting a shop owned by foreigners in Mabopane township, some 29 kilometers (18 miles) from the Pretoria city center.
Police were seen dispersing the mobs and helping shop owners evacuate their goods to nearby police stations.
Some locals accuse foreign nationals of, stealing their jobs and business opportunities.
Protests began in parts of Pretoria Monday after the African National Congress announced it would replace the current Mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, with Thoko Didiza in the upcoming local government elections.
The announcement angered Ramokgopa’s supporters who went on rampage, saying Didiza was an outsider from another province and could not be chosen to lead them.
South Africa will hold local government elections on Aug. 3.
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