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The long term impact of the Soweto looting

By Staff Writer
Over the past week there has been looting and violence against foreign shop owners across Soweto and surrounding areas. The trigger for this latest spate of violence against foreigners began when a 14 year old boy, Siphiwe Mahori, was allegedly shot dead by a foreign shop owner when the boy and his group of friends reportedly tried to rob the store.
 
Over this past weekend approximately 100 shops were looted. The violence has led to the loss of many lives, including a 19 year old boy, Nhlanhla Monareng, who was shot by a store owner when he shot into a crowd that was trying to loot his shop, and a baby who was killed in a stampede.
 
Other victims include Dan Mokwena, a 74 year old Malawian shopkeeper, who was attacked and killed by a crowd when he was found sleeping inside his shop.
 
According to one economist, the current violence against foreigners in the townships could have a negative medium to long term impact on business confidence in South Africa.
 
Director and chief economist at Econometrix Dr Azar Jammine explained: "[This] is the kind of thing that reduces confidence in the long term future of the South African economy, and to that extent if there is less investment you end up with less economic growth as well."
 
Jammine believes that if foreign shop owners are chased out of the townships or if they are unable to conduct business properly, the residents will be forced to shop at more mainstream commercial stores, such as Pick n Pay and Shoprite, where they could end up paying more.
 
He said: "People would still have to spend, but they will probably have to spend more because the profit margins that these big stores demand would probably be higher."
 
Meanwhile, the government have been hesitant to label the attacks on foreign shop owners as 'xenophobia'.
 
According to reports, Lebogang Maile, Gauteng economic development MEC, has said that the looting that has taken place this past week highlighted the slow paced economic development that is taking place in the region.
 
He believes that the violence is not spurred on by an anti-foreigner prejudice, but rather by criminality in the area as people are struggling financially.

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