Africa, Headlines, Human Rights, Migration & Refugees

Q&A: ‘The Cake is Not Enough’

Mandisi Majavu interviews GERALD MOOI, Gugulethu spaza shop owner

CAPE TOWN, Jun 18 2009 (IPS) - Gerald Mooi owns a business renting out pool tables for functions across the city of Cape Town area.

Gerald Mooi: 'If you are hungry, there will be problems.' Credit:  Mandisi Majavu/IPS

Gerald Mooi: 'If you are hungry, there will be problems.' Credit: Mandisi Majavu/IPS

He started up a grocery shop in the Gugulethu neighbourhood where he lives, about one year ago to supplement his income. But he says instead of being an extra source of income, his pool table business now subsidises the grocery shop.

Mooi spoke to IPS at a meeting of small business owners in Gugulethu.

IPS: Tell us about your situation. Gerald Mooi: My shop is going very badly because of the Somalis. In this line of selling groceries, I feel very affected by Somali shops. The prices they use cause us to melt down financially. Their prices are much lower than ours.

The prices that the Somalis use are not equivalent to ours, or what we are supposed to charge. We feel that they are getting support somewhere. Now the Somalis came, they make a low price and South African shopkeepers cannot survive.

The other reason I don’t like the Somali shopkeepers is that they are very unhygienic. They sleep inside their shops, wash there, make kids there. It’s very bad.

IPS: How did you feel last year when xenophobic attacks swept the country? GM: The cake is too small for the foreigners. The attacks were natural. If you put your dog to my dog’s food, the fight will blast because the cake is not enough.

Residents of Gugulethu are so fed up and they are hungry. If you are hungry, there will be problems. You cannot come and take someone else’s food. People are being stabbed to death for a piece of chicken these days.

IPS: What would you propose as a solution? GM: I can’t come up with a solution on my own. We will have to find the solution as the Gugulethu Business Forum.

But personally, I believe these guys must resolve the problems in their own country. They must go and be heroes in their homelands and not come here to establish businesses.

IPS: Do you think it is feasible to say that only people from Gugulethu should have businesses in Gugulethu? GM: Not only people from Gugulethu. All South Africans can make a business here. You can come here and make a business, yes. But not the Somalis, no, not them.

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