Durban – FOREIGN nationals involved in informal business in the Durban CBD have urged the government to intervene after MK veterans chased them away from the Workshop flea market.
According to the traders, members of Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) came to the market on Monday last week and demanded they shut down their business operations.
Last week, MKMVA members evicted foreign shop owners in the CBD, while some had their shops looted and damaged.
Trader, Smith Enebebholo said that since the incident they had had no income and were living in fear.
“What is happening is uncalled for and all we want is to work and feed our families,” he said.
He accused eThekwini Municipality’s Business Support Unit of failing to protect them, saying they had permits to operate in the market.
He claimed that traders had citizenship, work permits and lease agreements with the municipality.
“The municipality is aware that we were chased out of the market, yet they are not doing anything. Sadly, the government is just watching xenophobia boiling up, and doing nothing,” said Enebebholo.
The Africa Solidarity Network (ASN) met with foreign traders at Diakonia Council of Churches in Durban yesterday. The network’s chairperson, Byamungu Dunia, said they were looking to engage all stakeholders to prevent the violence from spreading to other areas.
“This is the beginning of more xenophobic attacks, and our people are scared. People’s lives are at stake and, for a week now, they haven’t had any income.
“They can’t go back and work because they were warned that they will be attacked. Our main fear is that when these incidents start, they spread and lead to more chaos,” he said.
Zibuse Cele, an MK veteran member and march co-ordinator, said informal business should be reserved for locals. “Many people are hungry in this country and foreign nationals are living in luxury. We can’t have that in our country. They must go and operate in their own country. They are blocking everywhere, including tuck shops, security business and even truck drivers,” he said.
KZN provincial government spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said there were ongoing engagements with the affected parties.
“The provincial government has tasked the Department of Community Safety, and the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs to resolve this matter, and we are making progress. We are also appealing to all parties to use the relevant channels to address such matters and not resort to violence,” said Mabaso.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the attacks on foreign traders by MK veterans were regrettable. “Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda is on record as saying those who are embarking on such unlawful conduct must face the full might of the law,” he said.