Communities in the Buffalo City Metro in the Eastern Cape are demanding that law enforcement and government authorities evict foreign nationals who are trading from a business area in the East London CBD.
The residents say illegal activities like the manufacturing, distribution and sale of drugs are taking place in the area. The business district hosts a variety of enterprises including a night club, accommodation facilities and furniture shops.
Residents say these outlets are used as fronts for illegal activities.
Angry residents from Duncan Village took to the streets protesting against the high numbers of burglaries they are subjected to. They allege that the stolen items are then sold in the St Paul’s Street area in the CBD of East London.
There are a number of shops owned by foreign nationals operating in this area. A community policing forum member, Ludumo Salman, says they recovered illegal drugs on numerous occasions during their raids in this area.
“It’s affecting us in the sense that there informed by the use of drugs everytime they steal they actually looking for a fix to get a fix from this particular residence. We have discovered they’re the source of crime.”
A local business operator, Fanie Cronje, says crime is the order of the day in the area.
“There are drug deals going on a daily basis. There are police, every now and again they come and search cars for drugs. It is a situation which I don’t think it will be resolved unless serious action will be taken by the police. It is an ongoing problem; I don’t know how they are going to solve it unless serious action by police.”
But one of the foreign business owners, Rich Okoye, says police are to blame for illicit drug trading in this area.
“The South African Police are exacerbating the whole thing by collecting bribes from some of these guys in the street instead of fighting crime. You end up seeing them going to the back door getting money from these guys that is why the problem had continued for this long.”
Police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana says this is one of the crime hotspot areas in the Buffalo City Metro and it is prioritised.
“In cases where there is suspicion of police involvement in these crimes, they must not hesitate to come forward so that those involved can be dealt with in terms of the law. l must add that the SAPS has prioritized BCM.”
The protesting residents are also demanding that the Department of Home Affairs tackle the issue of undocumented foreign nationals.