Police in Uitenhage say they will remain on guard at KwaNobuhle township after nine spaza shops owned by Somali nationals were looted by local youths last week in a suspected xenophobic attack.
It is reported that other spaza shops operated by Somalians are still closed for fear of being looted.
Muhiyadin Jilley of the Somali Association of South Africa in the Eastern Cape told The New Age they were disappointed by the violent developments.
“Historically, under apartheid, rural shops in South Africa were run by white people. We are playing our part in local economic development of the country because we employ people locally,” said Jilley as he appealed for calm.
WO Gerda Swart said nine suspects had been arrested in connection with the looting.
“The nine were arrested for public violence and have since appeared in court,” Swart said, adding that no injuries and fatalities were reported.
The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality mayor, Zanoxolo Wayile, has also appealed for peace, calm and tolerance following the incident.
Wayile said while the outcome of the police investigation into the root causes and unfolding of the incidents was awaited and should not be pre-empted, the metro “wishes to reaffirm its full commitment to upholding the universal laws adopted by the UN and the rights conferred on all people in terms thereof”.
“This city carries the very special distinction of bearing the name of an international icon of freedom and humanity.
“As a municipality and as residents, we must uphold the noble values exemplified by Nelson Mandela: freedom, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness and ubuntu,” said the mayor.
Wayile said the metro was working closely with different structures in the community to build social cohesion and break down barriers between different races, cultures and religions.
“The events that have played themselves out in Uitenhage are an embarrassment to our city, our province and our country, especially at this crucial time when we are acting as hosts to the Afcon teams and the spotlight of the world is turned upon us.
This is a time for building trust and unity, for showing solidarity and ubuntu, for welcoming and embracing our African brothers and sisters,” Wayile said.
Swart said the police were continuing with their investigation into the matter.