Botshabelo Socio-economic Forum says they want to reclaim the local economy back. They have shut down economic activities in an effort to draw attention to their demands.

Residents say foreign nationals businesses are not regulated and this gives them an advantage over local businesses.

Businesses in the area have been closed. Local business owners demand government to intervene on mushrooming foreign national shops.

They say foreign nationals businesses have an advantage because they are not regulated.

“We are saying we are sick and tired of the government that is protecting the foreign nationals against us as South Africans and we are saying as South Africans and residents of Botshabelo we want our economy back to our hands.”

“Now, I’m here sitting, doing nothing in Botshabelo and I’m told to close the centre because of COVID-19 and I understand COVID-19 is dangerous. We need to protect ourselves. Where do I get money to get all the things I need to use in my centre? And the foreigners … they are there working in their shops and they don’t even comply.”

Foreign nationals say they fear for their lives.

Yeasin Arafat says, “We have closed … we are scared. We are complying with regulations in our shops.”

Socio-Economic Forum has threatened to close down businesses until its demands are met.

Shutdown convener, Sipho Gxilisha says all businesses should be regulated.

“In the process, these people were inspected. Out of 700, only 32 of them were complying. We want to know how many arrests were made? How many people were taken out of this country? Today, you want to tell us about regulations, which, yourselves, you are not adhering to,” says Gxilisha.

A memorandum of demands has been sent to Free State government and residents say they expect response by Friday.

Meanwhile, police are monitoring the situation.