The situation remained tense in the afternoon as many shop owners stood at the entrances of their businesses and expressed worries. They said it all started when two men, believed to be South Africans, had a slight physical fight on the corner of Jeppe and Delvers streets. Many bystanders apparently screamed at the two fighters making noise that scared foreign business owners.
“I heard people screaming and closed my shop thinking the noise was made by people who wanted to loot us, said Ethopian national Nasir Jabel.
Another Ethopian national, Elias Kassa, said he did not open his clothing shop for the whole day because he feared being attacked and looted.
“What I saw in the news on television last night scared me. I don’t want to be burned alive like other people,” said Kassa.
Local street vendor Lesiba Monama blamed the whole shut down on what he called unemployed people who always wandered on the streets in the city.
“We are worried about this situation. There is no xenophobia here but some people just want to loot the shops,” he said.
Several other local business owners and vendors said they were also concerned about the potential outbreak of xenophobic mayhem. They said the outbreak would make it difficult for them to trade in the city.
The police could not immediately be reached for comment.