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Spaza shops looted after toddler’s death

Thirteen men and two women appeared in the Vredenburg Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (yesterday) after several spaza shops in Laingville were attacked and looted last week.

Their first court appearance was on Friday 2 August.

According to local police spokesperson Captain Tania Helfrich, an angry mob attacked the spaza shops owned by foreigners, after an alleged “false rumour” led some community members to believe that a foreign national was involved in the death of Kungawa Mazembe (4), who went missing on Tuesday 30 July. Mazembe’s little body was discovered by police divers in a small, fenced dam in Bokbaaivyfie Street on Wednesday morning, 31 July.

The rumour that circulated claimed the little boy was murdered for his body parts.

Thyrone Williams, wellknown Laingville community leader, reassured residents on Facebook last week that the death of the toddler was a mere accident. “According to my source there is no damage to the body and there is no foul play involved. It was a clear drowning,” he wrote.

Captain Helfrich also told Weslander that the autopsy confirmed drowning as the cause of death.

Monday evening Williams called a community meeting in the Laingville community hall that was also attended by the police.

“It was one of the most difficult meetings I ever facilitated,” Williams told Weslander.

“Everyone was very emotional, but in the end most of those present agreed that the foreign nationals may return to their shops and do business as usual.”

According to Williams the community members at the meeting wanted to know if criminal charges against the fifteen residents accused of public violence will be withdrawn, now that the air is cleared.

“We told them the police’s hands are tied, and that only the magistrate can determine the outcome of this matter.”

Williams also told Weslander that they were informed on Tuesday that because of damage done to government owned vehicles, the state would appeal bail for the fifteen community members who appeared in court on Wednesday (yesterday). The outcome of the court proceedings was not available by the time Weslander went to print.

According to a police, little Mazembe was in the care of his father last Tuesday when he went missing. He was last seen playing near his house at about 10:00 in the morning. Later that day he was reported missing.

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