Local Alexandra store owners vow to revenge Operation Dudula members: I don't mind going to jail

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Store owners whose shops were gutted by a fire at the Pan African Mall in Alexandra have vowed to retaliate.

Six stores were razed to the ground following a fire on Wednesday. The cause of the blaze is still not known, and no injuries were reported.

Frustrated store owners say they are angry that all their belongings and money have burnt, and they are now left to pick up the pieces.

The News team spoke to several store owners who blame the burning of their shops on the Dudula movement, a vigilante group led by Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini that seeks to deport all foreigners who live and work in South Africa.

They are angry and now left without a livelihood to support their families and say they will retaliate.

“These people who did this just burnt our shops; today people just come in and burn what we worked so hard for. I am going to retaliate and if I go to prison, so be it.”

At the time of publishing, the movement did not respond to comment on the claims.

One of the stall owners, Matome David Mashitatona, who lives in 16th Avenue and has been trading at the Pan Africa Square since 1989, said the fire started at about 20:00 as he received a call at about that time, alerting him that his stall was on fire.

“I rushed there and found it engulfed by a huge fire. A queue marshal from the nearby taxi rank told him they had seen a man carrying a container next to the stalls and soon after that, a fire broke out,” Mashitatona told Alex News.

Mashitatona owns three stalls, the other two belonged to his wife and their daughter, Winnie, and all had stocked estimated to be well over R50 000, which include wooden spoons for cooking pap, rat and roach poisons, women’s face creams, lipsticks, nail polish, eyebrow pencils, socks for both men and women, washing racks, ant killers, cigarettes, and table clothes.

Mashitatona, who said he was building a house in his home village of Botokwa in Limpopo, said he is devastated by the loss of his stock as it formed the foundation of his livelihood and source of income for his building project back home.

“I also lost my ID there and bank cards associated with my pension grant and I don’t know where I will get the money to rebuild the business. I appeal to anyone who can help to please come forward,” he added.

Connie Raphela (56), who has been trading there for more than 20 years and was dealing in similar products to Mashitatona and included gas containers and plastic buckets to her trade, estimated her loss at well over a R100 000.

She made a passionate appeal to the government to come to their aid and help them rebuild their businesses. “We want them to help in the same way they have helped the family of the Diepsloot man [Elvis Nyathi] who was killed last month.

“Our government is failing us as they lean more towards foreign nationals and don’t seem to care much about us, the voters of this country. It’s our turn to be taken care of just like the family of the Diepsloot man.

“Politicians must not just come to us when they need our votes. They should stick with us through thick and thin, rain or sunshine. They are in power because of us as we vote them there,” Raphela said.

Emergency services Robert Mulaudzi said an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the blaze.

SAPS members at the scene refused to comment and said their spokesperson was on the way from 07:00 until when our news crew left at 10:00.


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