Competition turns ugly as businesses are torched

Cape Town – Fierce competition in Mfuleni among foreign shop owners turned ugly when at least three businesses were razed to the ground on Tuesday.

Emmanuel Forson, who owns a salon, cellphone repair shop and supermarket at Khumbulani Street in Mfuleni said he received a phone call from one of his tenants at about 2am on Tuesday saying the containers were alight.

“Six months ago, I had an argument with other Somali shop owners in the area; they didn’t want me to open a shop and told me to take my shops away because they were too close to theirs but I didn’t,” said Forson.

“Since then, I’ve been receiving calls from unknown numbers (of people) threatening me to close my shops and go away, but I refused because I was also making money for my family,” said Forson.
“I was so confused when I got to the scene. It was sad to see my containers burnt like that. What worries me the most is that I am not even finished paying the loan I took to build the shops and now I have to spend lots of money rebuilding the shops again.

“Whoever is responsible has shattered me because it cost about R29000 to build and maintain the shops. I had about five big fridges and each of them cost R12000. Now I have to buy them again.”

Shop owner Abdi Risaaq Hassan, 27, said he was awoken by a loud noise to find the shop engulfed in smoke. “My brother and I live inside the shop. At about 2.30am we heard people screaming that there was fire. Luckily, we managed to run outside even though there was smoke all over the shop. We saw a hole outside a container where whoever was planning to destroy us spilt paraffin or petrol to set it alight,” said Hassan

He said he was left with nothing. “We don’t feel safe these people are dangerous; they are capable of doing anything to destroy us.”

Community leader Thembile George said they were doing as much as they could to make peace between the foreign owners.

Cape Argus

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