In townships and rural areas, foreign-owned spaza shops have long been regarded as among the most reliable companies. Up until recently, when a large number of customers began griping about the expired, fake, and illegal goods being sold in these spaza shops.
Locals greatly support the foreign spaza shops, which are primarily owned by Somalians and Ethiopians and are known as” Bo-myfriends” due to their accessibility and low prices, as they can be found on almost every corner of townships.
Local Mahlarini village resident Ms. Tshifhiwa Mudau claimed that she purchased from the foreign spaza shops because they were affordable and close to her home. I can reach the spaza shops in under five minutes. They offer affordable prices for basic items like bread, soft drinks, and snacks. Recently, I noticed that the majority of the goods they sell are fake on social media. Even though I must admit that some of the items they sell taste differently, I will still purchase from them due to their proximity and low cost. The economy is in terrible shape, and we do n’t have any money,” she said.
One of the foreign spaza shop owners, Alex, was also contacted by Limpopo Mirror to get their perspective on the situation. According to Alex, they purchased the majority of their stock in Thohoyandou from a reliable vendor. ” We might be to blame for the expired goods and illegal cigarettes.” We acknowledge that we do n’t always check the expiration dates. However, Coca-Cola trucks will also be seen bringing soft drinks to customers. My friend, I’ve heard rumors that fake food factories have been built in our country. I’m not. I’m not sure, maybe our suppliers. Only if the food I sell is halaal do I consume it as well. Every morning if you come here, you’ll see bakeries bringing fresh bread, but we’re held responsible for everything.
Alex thinks that everything is influenced politically and that spaza shops intimidate the large local stores in townships and rural areas. Aaron Motsoaledi, the minister of home affairs, urged all municipalities to audit spaza shops owned by foreign nationals in their jurisdictions three weeks ago in response to the public outcry over the caliber of food sold in them.
In collaboration with the South African Police Service ( SAPS), Home Affairs, and local municipalities, the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism ( LEDET ) recently began the auditing process at neighborhood spaza shops, wholesalers, grocery stores, shopping centers, malls. It is looking for people who have illegal licenses or permits, foreigners with expired documents, unregistered businesses, as well as locals who house illegally operating businesses.
The Siloam CBD in Nzhelele, Makhado ward 33, was also searched by officials from LEDET, SAPS, SANCO, and the Community Policing Forum, who discovered expired goods and illegal cigarettes.
According to LEDET spokesman Mr. Zaid Kalla, the province’s mushrooming foreigner-owned businesses as well as the sale of expired goods, unidentified products, and unlicensed businesses are what drove the need for the raids. According to him, “undocumented foreigners were arrested and detained during the raids in Limpopo, and J534 fines (admission-of-guilty penalties, which are penalties paid for less serious environmental offenses under Section 56 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 ) were issued.
Kalla emphasized that the raids were merely an audit rather than xenophobic attacks. The Thohoyandou CBD’s spaza shops were audited by the Thuramela Municipality after the health minister called for it. Mayor Athongozwidivha Sarah Rambuda served as the audit’s director. The mayor found a lot of expired goods during the inspection. The owners of some spazas even took baths inside their establishments. The expired goods were destroyed, according to Mr. Nndwamato Tshiila, a spokesperson for Thulamela. The owners of the spaza were also warned. The municipality would still inspect other areas like Mutale, Sibasa, and all of Thulamela’s spaza shops, he continued.