The city of Germiston was brought to a standstill yesterday with businesses closed and a lot of foreign-owned shops looted to the ground.
The violent scenes of the past few days have left business owners devastated and most not sure how they will rebuild their businesses going forward.
Tendai Hove, a Zimbabwean hair salon owner, said he had lost everything.
“They broke in and took everything they could. They even smashed down the mirrors from the walls. I paid a lot of money for those things, ” he narrated.
The Golden Walk shopping mall only operated for two hours yesterday and thereafter closed its doors after looters invaded it on Monday.
The local taxi rank was shut down by police too after massive looting of shops around the area, leaving a lot of commuters stranded. The violence didn’t only affect businesses, as there were reports of shacks belonging to foreign nationals being burnt down in the nearby informal settlement of Makause.
Mavis Nushe, 45, sitting on a pavement with her three-year-old daughter, recounted how her shack was set alight in the night at the squatter camp.
“It is only by God’s grace that I was not inside when it happened. These are people we live with and know we are foreign nationals, therefore they targeted our shacks. I am sitting here begging for money so I can take a taxi to Joburg to spend the night with a relative,” said Nushe, a Mozambican.
The only shop that has been operating in the city centre, but also with the doors only half-open, is the local Spar. Some young men took advantage of this and started buying basics from them to resell in areas where no shops were operating.
The wave of looting has had a negative impact on local small businesses, including those owned by South Africans.
“It’s the beginning of the month, we must pay rent for our businesses, how will we do that when we are closed during the busiest time of the month? And where is law enforcement in all this, we just don’t see enough of them. We are being terrorised by faceless individuals,” lamented Melusi Nkutha, a South African, who runs a small shop selling cellphones and accessories.
The situation remains tense as there are still threats of more looting and burning down of businesses until “these foreigners pack up and leave our country,” acoording to a man, part of a small group armed with sticks and sjamboks, loitering around apparently waiting for sunset so they can attack.