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Tight security in Malawi as South African shops close on ‘Black Friday’

Blantyre, Malawi, April 24 (MaraviPost) _ There was an eerie atmosphere in Malawi’s major cities as South African-owned chain stores closed and tightened security as consumer rights groups called for a boycott of South African goods and shops in what was dubbed ‘Black Friday’.



Shops like PEP Stores, Shoprite and Game Stores in the commercial capital, Blantyre, the eastern city of Zomba, the capital, Lilongwe, and the northern city of Mzuzu remained throughout the day as heavily-armed police officers patrolled car parks, frisking anybody who wanted to gain entry into the premises.


“We have PEP Stores and Shoprite here in Mzuzu, they are both closed and armed police are all over,” said journalist Winnie Botha from the northern city.


In Blantyre heavily-armed police officers in armored vehicles were stationed in strategic corners of Chichiri Shopping Mall where Games Stores, Shoprite and PEP Stores are located.


“We were asked to wear our uniforms and report for duties but the bosses said we’re not opening,” said Bridget, a shop attendant at Shoprite.


Consumer rights activist John Kapito, Executive Director of the Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA), said in Lilongwe all Game Stores, Shoprite and PEP Stores outlets were closed.


“We want to send a symbolic message to South Africa that there must be a symbiotic relationship among countries in Africa. South Africans cannot chase us From their countries and expect us to help them grow their economy by patronizing their shops and goods,” he said.


Kapito said there were no demonstrations to avoid some rogue element to hijack it and loot the shops. 

Meanwhile, a row has erupted between government and local transporters on the former’s decision to hire South African buses to ferry the stranded Malawians from South Africa. 

Transporter Mike Mlombwa said it does not make sense to hire South African buses to ferry the Malawians. 

“These people do not want us in their country and yet we are giving them business. It doesn’t make sense. We could have done the job,” said Mlombwa who also heads what is called the Indigenous Business Association of Malawi (IBAM). 

But Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa defended government’s decision to hire South African buses. 

“Looking at the urgency of the situation it could have taken a lot of time for Malawian buses to reach South Africa. Besides, the South African buses were Cheaper,” he said. 

Nankhumwa said while Malawian transporters quoted 8.1 million Malawi kwacha (US $18,000) South African operators charged government 3.1 million Malawi kwacha (about US $6,888). 

South African High Commission to Malawi Cassandra Mbuyane-Mokone, who was petitioned by civil society group on Tuesday, has condemned the xenophobia attacks in South Africa. 

“We would like to strongly state our condemnation on the attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa. We would like to state that most South Africans are Not xenophobic,” she said in a statement she read to the media in Lilongwe Friday. 

The first batch of 390 Malawians fleeing the xenophobia attacks arrived in Malawi Monday night in six buses. Another set of 509 Malawians left Durban on Tuesday in eight buses. They were expected in Malawi on Friday. 

“When the buses reached Beitbridge (the South Africa-Zimbabwe border post) they found another 23 Malawians without passports whom someone picked in Germiston in East Rand (Johannesburg) and dumped there,” said Nankhumwa, the Information Minister. “These, too, were squeezed in the eight buses making the figure rise to 532.” 

Many Malawian young men trek to South Africa in search of work.-MaraviPost



Maravi Post Reporter
Maravi Post Reporter
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