“EVERYBODY WANTS A PIECE OF US”

Buziwe Nocuze

Foreign spaza shop owners are packing up and leaving Cape Town’s townships as cops, thugs and councillors are making their lives a living hell.

Shop owners are leaving Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, and Nyanga over claims of extortion from police and other people who kidnap them and demand ransom.

Scrolla.Africa spoke to several foreign shopkeepers in Cape Town townships who said that they live in fear because of extortion from thugs, police, local patrollers, and some community members.

Al Ahmed, a shop owner, told Scrolla.Africa that it has become hard for him and many other people who are not South Africans to run businesses, especially in townships.

He claimed that they receive ill-treatment and people force them to pay money every day.

“Every day, we are visited by different people who demand money or anything they want from the shops.

“If one particular shopkeeper refuses to give them what they want, it takes a few days before we hear a horror story of them being kidnapped and a demand for ransom,” said Al Ahmed.

He said whenever there is something happening in the community like funerals or parties, locals come to ask for handouts “and if we refuse, they threaten to shoot us dead.”

He said what hurts most is that they are not only demanding money from them but also calling them derogatory names, intimidating and swearing at them.

Another shopkeeper who asked not to be named said they could not even run or call the police officers because they were also financially abused by these officers in uniform.

“Police come to our shops, demanding money, and if we don’t give them, they threaten and beat us up before taking whatever they want in the shop,” he added.

“You cannot differentiate between thugs and the police”

He said every Monday, thugs come with Toyota Avanzas to their shops to collect money for protection. “It is a different group each time.”

“We are urging the government to come up with other solutions to protect us because the police officers are thugs in uniform,” added the shopkeeper.

Image source: African News Agency

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