Wednesday, June 5, 2013
by: Rahima Essop
A Somali owned shop was looted and burnt in Booysen Park, Port Elizabeth. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN
PORT ELIZABETH - Police say they have a specialised unit to deal with gangsterism in Booysen Park, a problem that sparked violent protests last week.
The protests were exacerbated by the arrest of several community leaders in connection with a suspected vigilante killing.
Several foreign-owned shops were looted and torched in the ensuing chaos.
Locals have long been complaining about gangsterism in the area. They recently took matters into their own hands and attacked two people suspected of robbing a spaza shop.
However, policeman Stanley Jarvis says vigilante killings will not be tolerated.
“They need to come on board and give us information to ensure that we can root out the problem.”
He says a protest against crime and gangsterism last week turned violent when criminals used the opportunity to target foreign shop keepers in the community.
One woman says mobs ran amok.
“All hell broke loose and people started looting shops.”
Somali shop owner Abdul Moalim Abdi whose relative was killed last week says they are easy targets.
Last week, angry residents in various informal settlements set a bus alight, blockaded roads with rocks and burning tyres and looted at least 30 foreign owned shops.
Many foreigners have since fled some of the affected areas.
More than 20 people were arrested for public violence.
Foreign-owned spaza shops were looted in Diepsloot in Johannesburg earlier last week.
Over 45 people were arrested after numerous spaza shops were looted by angry commuters earlier this week.
Violence broke out in Diepsloot after a Somali shop owner allegedly shot and killed two Zimbabwean men who were allegedly trying to rob him.
The suspect has since been arrested.
Meanwhile, the government has condemned the violence calling it a criminal activity.