Angry minibus taxi drivers looted foreign-owned shops and set others alight in South Africa’s capital Wednesday after a foreign national allegedly killed one of their colleagues the previous day.
The rioting came after taxi drivers took to the streets of Pretoria on Tuesday to confront alleged drug dealers when a Nigerian national allegedly opened fire, killing one of the drivers.
The next morning, the taxi drivers were joined by a mob of other South Africans who started looting and setting alight shops in the capital belonging to foreign nationals, especially Nigerians.
”I have instructed my police officers to leave no stone unturned, especially those who have engaged in crime during this protest like looting shops and burning buildings,” Gauteng Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela told reporters in Pretoria.
The police said at least seven shops had been set alight and several others looted.
”The people who have looted and burnt shops are criminal elements and have no grievances to raise with authorities against foreign nationals,” Mawela said.
Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to quell the situation as angry groups of taxi drivers threatened to attack and lynch foreign shopkeepers in the capital.
Firefighters worked tirelessly to contain the fires as residents were seen making off with goods, including groceries and electrical equipment.
Early last month, mobs in South Africa looted several foreign-owned shops on the outskirts of Johannesburg, the country’s largest city, accusing foreigners of not respecting local laws, police said at the time. Several foreign-owned shops were looted in Soweto township as a result.
Several foreign shop owners condemned the looting and torching of their shops, saying they had lost everything.
“We are tired of being mistreated. Whenever one foreign national does something wrong, we are all punished collectively This is unfair,” Malik Majid, a local trader, told Anadolu Agency.
Police said they are monitoring the situation and have deployed personnel in volatile areas.
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