Chinese embassy tells merchants in S Africa to arm themselves after deadly robberies

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 3:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 6:17pm

Chinese shopping centres in Johannesburg plan to establish a private armed security force after a spate of deadly violent crimes against Chinese people in South Africa’s largest city.

Administrators of nine Chinese malls agreed to set up the agency after more than 200 crimes against Chinese people – many of them armed robberies – were reported this year in Johannesburg, resulting in 11 deaths, four alone last month, and some 30 injuries, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy said.

Each mall would supply a vehicle and security personnel armed with weapons, including automatic rifles, according to a China News Service report.

Consul general Sun Dali denounced South African police’s “inefficiency” in solving crime. “[We] can’t afford to postpone any longer in setting up a mechanism to safeguard our compatriots’ safety and property rights,” he said.

The Chinese consulate was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Plagued by a wide income gap between rich and poor, high unemployment, and continuous strikes, South Africa has one of the highest violent crime rates in the world. The country had a murder rate of 31 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012, according to UN figures.

An estimated 350,000 overseas Chinese live in South Africa, which has the largest Chinese population of any African country. Shopping centres built by Chinese investors have grown in number in Johannesburg over the past two decades along with the burgeoning Chinese population. The malls typically house independent stores selling affordable goods made in China.