Four men have been charged with robbing two Ethiopian nationals in Pietermaritzburg.
Thobani Dlamini (21), Andile Makhaye (26), Nkuthalo Msomi (27) and Siyabonga Ngcobo (26) appeared in court on 20 April, charged with business robbery and burglary, and were remanded in custody until 29 April.
The four attacked Ariga Wolamo (33) and Tefere Laramo (30) on 19 April at their Vulinhlanhla Supermarket in Azalea, Pietermaritzburg.
Wolamo had injuries to his head which were treated at an Edendale hospital. Laramo managed to escape.
The pair became business owners in Azalea in 2014, the year they became residents of South Africa. Both live in town. They said they had been robbed before.
KZN Media Centre Major Thulani Zwane confirmed that police were investigating a case of business robbery and a case of burglary at business premises.
“There are three businesses operating in the same area but our shop was always a target,” said Wolamo. He said cigarettes were often a target.
On 19 April five men had come to the shop.
“The word had been spread that there were attacks directed to foreigners in town. People took aantage of that. On the day of the attack in the afternoon, about five men entered the shop. They started demanding that we give them cigarettes. While we were still puzzled by that they started attacking me. My partner was inside at the time but he managed to run away and he phoned our relatives who were in town.
“Not even one person from those who were watching told them to stop. We ran away from the shop and our friends came to rescue us.”
“They had taken everything they wanted we had to take the things that were left,” said Wolamo.
The two are living with their relatives and their shop is closed. Their friend Yoset Latebo (29), who has a shop in town, said he was facing similar threats.
“Because we are foreigners no one trusts us. When the police see us walking on the road at night they flick their lights and ask if we are selling drugs. Would they do that if the men walking on the street were South Africans? I don’t think so. We are treated in that manner because we are foreigners.”
“Sometimes the same police ask for bribes and threaten that if we refuse they will arrest us.”
Lieutenant Joey Jeevan of SAPS Corporate Communication in Pietermaritzburg said she had investigated the bribe allegations and no bribery complaints had been laid against members of the Pietermaritzburg SAPS.
But Latebo said without knowing their rank and police station it was difficult to report police officers who asked for bribes.
“For the sake of peace we ignore people when they call us names”, said Latebo, who has a child with a South African woman. “We were planning to make South Africa our home. Some of us have families in this country.”
Wolamo said he hoped justice would take its course.
“I wish the police could keep the robbers in jail for good. We don’t want to see them outside and doing the same thing again,” said Wolamo.
Source : GroundUp