Port Elizabeth – The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has condemned the looting of foreign-owned shops and related violence in the city.
The attacks on Somalians had put the people of Port Elizabeth to shame, the municipality said in a statement on Tuesday.
It said a suspected act of criminality by a Somalian could never justify the looting and attacking of innocent people.
“We want to put it straight and clear, these incidents are criminal, cowardly, irresponsible and inexcusable to say the least.
“We condemn these acts in the strongest possible terms. We call upon the law enforcement agencies to act strongly to those found to be responsible for this chaos.”
The municipality extended its condolences to the family of a man who was shot dead by a foreign shop owner on Saturday in New Brighton.
It said it would visit the man’s family and the Somalians affected in various areas of the city.
Earlier on Tuesday, Eastern Cape police said 70 people had been arrested for looting and public violence.
Brigadier Marinda Mills said the situation was “tense but stable” on Tuesday morning after sporadic looting of shops owned by immigrants on Monday night.
Looting was reported in Kwadwesi, Missionvale, Swartkops, New Brighton, and Motherwell.
“During our interaction with affected communities, it was clear that the motive for the attacks on foreign-owned spaza shops (was) not xenophobic in nature, but a criminal element that has seized an opportunity,” Mills said.
Looting was considered public violence, which was a schedule one offence under the Criminal Procedure Act.
It was difficult for the police to prevent looting, as it was hard to predict when and where it would occur.
“Most of the foreign shop owners have been assisted to relocate their property to safer locations,” said Mills.