Abdul Balma, a street vendor in central Durban was stabbed several times and his merchandise torched on Monday according to eyewitnesses.
Balma, originally from Burkinafaso, and another man, from Senegal, were assaulted during the incident which took place at the corner of Ingcuce (Albert) and Bertha Mkhize (Victoria) streets.
According to eyewitnesses, Balma was set upon by a group of about ten men who said immigrants must leave South Africa.
A South African national, who did not want to be named, said the men poured petrol on the clothes Balma sells and set them alight. She said he was brave to have stood up to them, but “they started beating him and he was stabbed”.
She said another man from Senegal was also assaulted.
“We are scared and at the same time we cannot do anything about this because we have families to feed and we also have to pay our suppliers … It is a sin, shameful and disgusting that our fellow South Africans can do something like this to their fellow Africans,” she said.
Balma’s brother, Apouya Homada, said, “He has been selling on the street for 15 years, and since November last year we have been harassed, intimidated and told to go back to where we come from.”
According to Homada, about two months ago, a group of people started demanding R200 a week from the vendors.
Many immigrant-owned shops closed after the incident.
Balma was released from hospital Monday evening.
According to witnesses, the assailants claimed to be from uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans (MKMVA). But MKMVA KZN convener Zibuse Cele is adamant that their members are not involved.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker confirmed that unknown men set alight stalls belonging to the street vendors and “two men were assaulted and were taken to hospital for medical attention”.
“Police are at the scene and are monitoring the situation,” said Naicker.