Four Somali shops have been burnt down and 55 shops have been looted in Motherwell and Kwadwesi, in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape police said on Thursday.
“About 200 Somalis ran away from their shops, where a lot of them live, when other residents started attacking them,” said Captain Andre Beetge.
He did not know the reason for the attack.
He said he had heard of some physical assaults on Somalis, but no cases had been opened.
Fifty-two shops were looted and three were burnt down in Motherwell and three shops were looted and one was burnt down in Kwadwesi.
The attacks began on Wednesday afternoon and continued until the early hours of Thursday morning when police contained the situation.
“There was some stone-throwing at police when they arrived at the scene, but it wasn`t a general thing,” said Beetge.
“The situation is stable and quiet now and a lot of the Somalis have returned to their homes.
Some are operating their businesses already,” he said.
In March 2011 Somalis blamed local businessmen for prompting an attack then after some argued they were being undercut and were alarmed at the competition.
Somali leaders then accused the police of helping themselves to their goods during attacks.
The police firmly deny such charges and say that any goods they are able to salvage during the looting of Somali shops are taken to the local police station for safe keeping.
Joseph Matshapa, a community police forum officer in Motherwell, told UNHCR investigators that police have introduced several measures aimed at protecting Somali businesses.
“The police patrol Somali business areas at all hours.
After each patrol, the shop owner and the police both sign a confirmation of patrol booklet, which is proof that the police are trying to uphold safety and security,” he noted.
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