Deaths mount in looting incidents at immigrant-owned shops in townships

Photo credit: Matt-80 / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit: Matt-80 / Foter / CC BY

Copyright 2015 Bloomberg.

Kevin Crowley

(Bloomberg) — Two men in South Africa were shot dead during the looting of a Somali-owned shop in Langlaagte, south of Johannesburg, bringing the death toll to five in a wave of attacks on immigrant-owned shops since last week.

The incident in Langlaagte took place on Sunday evening, after which an adjacent business was set ablaze, South African Police Service spokesman Solomon Makgale said by text message. In a separate attack early Monday in Alexandra township, in the north of Johannesburg, looters set a store owned by immigrants on fire while attempts to loot shops in Katlehong, south east of Johannesburg, were thwarted, SAPS said.

Foreign-owned shops were targeted last week in Soweto township, southwest of Johannesburg, after a store owner shot and killed a boy who he said was part of a group of teenagers trying to rob his business, sparking a backlash. Some locals accuse foreigners of taking jobs and services away from South Africans, in a country where one in four adults is unemployed.

So far, 178 people have been arrested in connection with the looting, the police said. Youths, allegedly under the influence of drugs, last week took advantage of the disorder and targeted cigarettes, cash and mobile-phone airtime vouchers, Lesetja Mothiba, police commissioner for Gauteng province, said Jan. 23.

Some goods from the Langlaagte looting were recovered, the police said.

In 2008, about 60 people were killed in xenophobic violence across South Africa that displaced as many as 50,000 people.

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