Media: Bid to find answers as locals complain about foreign traders

5 06 2009

June 04, 2009 Edition 2
ESTHER LEWIS and FRANCIS HWESHE

Source: Cape Argus

THE Anti-Eviction Campaign will meet the South African Somali Association at the weekend to try to defuse tension between local and foreign business owners.

Mncedisi Twalo, the campaign’s spokesman, told a meeting of Guguletu business people last night that it was necessary to hear both sides of the story to reach an amicable solution.Tension has been mounting in the area as locals accuse Somalis of “killing” their business by selling their goods at such low prices that locals can’t compete.

An interim business forum committee made up of Guguletu shopkeepers was formed last night. With the Anti-Eviction Campaign, they will approach the Department of Trade and Industry and the Competition Commission to help resolve the problems.

The 40 people who attended the meeting appeared hostile towards foreigners.

“We have rules here. People of the world can’t just come here and do what they want. It seems like the freedom we fought for was fought for foreigners. People in the townships are being squeezed,” said a man who identified himself only as Boyce.

He and other speakers said they struggled to make a profit each month. All blamed Somali shopkeepers.

Twalo said workshops would be held to explain practices and policies of the business community. For now, this would involve locals only.

“They are not ready to meet with the other side. They are still too angry. When the time is right, both sides will meet,” Twalo said.

He also said that at a later stage the business forum would include other areas, such as Philippi, where there were similar problems.

In September, similar tensions arose among local and foreign store owners in Khayelitsha, with a call on the Somalis to leave the area because the competition they posed was too stiff.

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