ANC Daily News Briefing/Sapa, 30 May 2007

PLEASE NOTE: Readers wishing to reproduce and reference this article
should contact the editors of the ANC Daily News Briefing and/or Sapa for permission

A number of foreigners moved out of Schweizer-Reneke on Wednesday after two days of violent attacks on shop owners by residents, police said. Captain Emmanuel Reetsang said the foreigners, Asian shopowners in the town and its neighbouring locations, feared they might also be attacked by angry residents. "Some of these foreigners are moving out of Schweizer-Reneke to different places like Johannesburg and Klerksdorp because they fear they might be attacked," he said. About 4000 residents from townships outside of Schweizer-Reneke were loitering in the town on Wednesday despite a heavy police presence. Residents from Ipelegeng, Charon, Glaudina, Extension 5 and Migdol had started burning and looting shops owned by foreigners on Tuesday. "It seems the situation is under control although the residents are still on every corner of the street in Schweizer-Reneke." Reetsang said another five people were arrested for public violence earlier on Wednesday. No one had been injured in the attacks. He said the violence against foreign shop-owners was "out-of-control" on Wednesday morning, and additional police had been brought in. Residents were attacking foreign shop-owners, burning down their shops and blocking roads with stones. "These people are attacking all foreigners who occupy the shops in Schweizer-Reneke," he said. Acting municipal manager Msosa Motlashuping said the violence against Pakistani shop-owners "just erupted" on Tuesday. He said the municipality had not been approached by residents with any grievances but would hold public meetings at 1pm on Thursday to "quell" the situation. Public meetings would be held in four of the municipalities six wards. "We want to listen to their problems... and inform the community of the correct grievance procedures... The only way that we can resolve this crisis is through meetings," he said. He said the meetings would not be held on Wednesday afternoon as security was a main concern. "The situation could be quickly brought under control during the day," he said. Motlashuping said he met police on Wednesday afternoon but the motive for the attacks was still not clear. "There is no identifiable group or organisation that has taken responsibility for these attacks," he said. Motlashuping said three high schools stood empty in Ipelegeng on Wednesday. He could not verify whether this was as a result of the public violence in Schweizer-Reneke. By Wednesday afternoon the total number of people arrested was 33. These included nine women and nine youths aged at about 16. On Tuesday, 28 people had been arrested for burning down and possibly robbing three "Indian-owned" spaza shops in Ipelegeng. Reetsang said one man had been found in possession of an unlicensed 7.65mm pistol and 15 live rounds of ammunition. He said all 29 people would appear in the Schweizer-Reneke Magistrate's Court on Thursday. "There are additional police in the area, I can't confirm numbers but they have increased," he said. Reetsang said one man had been arrested around 9am in Charon on Wednesday after attacking the owners of a shop.