BARBERTON – As the looting of foreign nationals owned shops continues amid the ongoing protests by residents, the foreigners are pleading with authorities to grant them permission to obtain firearm permits to be able to possess firearms so that they can protect themselves and their business as they accused the police of failing to do so.
Since the protest to terminate the amalgamation of Umjindi with the Mbombela Local Municipality, among other things, started on Monday evening, several foreign national owned shops have been looted in Emjindini Township.
The act is committed mostly by youth.
Mr Mamushi Hegana from Ethiopia, who operates Way-In Tuck-shop at Shongwe road, said his shop was burgled-in in the wee hours of Tuesday.
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“I received a call at around 03:30 from my landlord that they were breaking into in my shop. I called the police for assistance and they told me that there is nothing they could do since it was a community protest. I couldn’t come here alone because I was scared and I don’t possess any firearm to protect myself and my business,” said Hegana.
He said the stock he lost during the looting is estimated at around R130 000. Hegana not only accused the police of failing to protect them and their businesses, but they were also declining to grant them rights to obtain firearm permits.
“Since the police are failing to protect us, we need firearm permits to be able to possess our own guns. Every time there are protests, our businesses suffer because of these looters, even if we lock our businesses, they break-in. If they protest, they must protect us from the protesters not loot our businesses. This is criminality. We are living clean lives here. We don’t conduct any criminal activities,” added Hegana.
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Brig Leonard Hlathi, Mpumalanga police spokesman said according to the South African firearm control act, asylum seekers do not qualify to possess firearm in the country.
He said any foreigners, who are in the country legally, need to apply for temporary authorisation to possess a fire-arm.
“There are some requirements to be followed though. These include them to provide their work permits, criminal record from his/her country of origin and the passport should be valid. The approval of the firearm permits will be then determined by the registry. If approved, its validity will be a period of 12-months, which will require to be renewed after every 12 months,” said Hlathi.