Spaza shop owners demand better policing in KwaNobuhle

Policing forum commits to have patrols increased to twice a day

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

20 April 2021

Spaza shop owners in KwaNobuhle and Despatch in the Eastern Cape stood in the rain to picket outside the KwaNobuhle police station on Monday to demand more police visibility. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Over 100 spaza shop owners in KwaNobuhle and Despatch in the Eastern Cape drove in convoy to the KwaNobuhle Police Station on Monday to demand more police visibility. They also wanted to highlight what they say has been a spike in incidents of robbery, hijackings and other targeted attacks on Somalian and Ethiopian-owned shops.

Chairperson of the Somali Community Services Said Mohamed said they believe certain people are orchestrating the crimes in order to run them out of business.

“We know that our own Somali brothers pay a fee of about R500 for protection from township thugs. There is no need to pay any fee. The police must do their job and be visible in all our shops,” he said.

Siyabulela Hodi, Project Coordinator for Eastern Cape Refugee Centre, said they have been “working tirelessly” with police to find a solution. Since January, there have been five murders, he said.

Colonel Isaac Plaatjies and Siphiwo Vusani of the Nelson Mandela Bay District Community Policing Forum came out to address picketers after briefly meeting with a delegation from the group.

Plaatjies told the group, “The problem is you open cases and when it is time to go to court you are nowhere to be found. We have to look for you and even when we arrest a criminal, we cannot keep them for more than 48 hours when [the accuser] doesn’t come forward.”

Vusani suggested that all spaza shops in KwaNobuhle close at 9pm. “We have also decided that there must be patrols throughout KwaNobuhle twice per day. We will have a Whatsapp group for shop owners, even if the group has 500 members,” he told picketers.