ANOTHER DAY OF CLASHES BETWEEN DUDULA AND FOREIGN SHOP OWNERS

Everson Luhanga

One woman was shot in the stomach and is reported to be fighting for her life as clashes continued on Tuesday between Dudula members and foreign shop owners on the streets of Alexandra.

The woman is believed to be part of the Dudula operation, and was allegedly shot by security guards.

The Dudula members spent Tuesday taking down and burning stalls and inspecting shop owners’ IDs. The group said they will continue their operations every day throughout February until all foreign nationals have vacated the area.

For the second day in a row, security guards protecting shops and stalls around the Pan Africa Mall opened fire on Dudula operatives, who have been staging anti-immigrant marches since Sunday.

The clashes follow the violence on Monday in which a heavily pregnant woman was shot in the head – allegedly by security guards guarding shops.

A total of four Dudula operatives are now believed to have been shot in Alex, and one street vendor selling onions and tomatoes was also hit. Police said three security guards were arrested on Monday and Gauteng provincial police spokesman Brigadier Brenda Muridili said police are investigating cases of attempted murder.

On Tuesday:

  • Marchers dismantled and burnt stalls suspected of belonging to foreign national business owners.
  • The police had their hands full stopping the crowd from resorting to violence. Around midday, more cops were sent in with marked cars from national and provincial offices to patrol the Pan Africa Mall.
  • Many shop owners who braved the Dudula crowd to trade had their ID books ready to prove that they were South Africans and they were trading legally. In spite of showing their ID cards, some traders were told they were not South Africans and that their IDs were obtained fraudulently.
  • As the members of Dudula roamed the mall, guards at a butchery opened fire. Police on the scene confirmed the incident to Scrolla.Africa, but gave no details.

The chairman of Alexandra’s Dudula branch, famously known as Msayza, alleged that two men, one standing on the butchery rooftop and the other inside the shop, opened fire on the marchers – apparently fearing they wanted to loot the butchery.

“The guards were shooting randomly towards us. Over 10 shots were fired and the live ammunition landed on the stomach of our female member. We rushed her to the local Alexandra Masakhane Clinic where she was transferred to another hospital,” said Msayza.

  • Msayza said his members had been marching peacefully and had not broken into a single shop since they started their demonstrations on Sunday morning. “We have never touched any shop or tried to break into any shop.” However, Dudula operatives were clearly seen taking down and burning stalls on Tuesday.
  • Msayza said Dudula members planned to set themselves up near spaces where foreigners had been evicted, and “look into who owns the shops at the mall”.
  • The Dudula crowd had grown larger than those on Sunday and Monday with more members joining the operation. At one stall the members found Nigerians and demanded that police search the car belonging to one of the foreigners in case they were selling drugs. Police searched the car while everyone watched but nothing was found in the car.

With shops that were vandalised and looted in July last year still closed, many traders fear shops owned by both locals and foreigners will face a similar destruction.

Business owner Solomon Nekai said they are trying to recover from the pandemic. “We still have to pay rent and there is not enough turnover since the residents started their operation,” he said.

Solomon acknowledged that people are suffering in the township and it’s up to the government to sort that out. “The government is not addressing practical issues of employment among the citizens,” he said.

A Portuguese owner of a butchery and a grocery shop, in business for 30 years, said although he survived the July looting, he is afraid that these anti-migrant marches will endanger business and investment.