[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Zimbabweans in Alex face xenophobia: read it and weep
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue May 13 06:18:56 BST 2008
Is this the new SA?
Mazola Molefe, Nkululeko Ncana, Borrie la Grange, Werner Swart and Thabo
Mkhize Published:May 13, 2008
REINFORCEMENTS: Police respond to the attacks on foreigners Picture:
TREATED LIKE AN ANIMAL: The body of a man shot early yesterday Picture:
SHEER TERROR: Yvonne Ndlovu was beaten in Alexandra township yesterday
for being Zimbabwean. As she walked bleeding to a phone booth, women
shouted at her to go home Picture: HALDEN KROG
The new SA: No foreigners allowed?
Four women mocked the bloodied Ndlovu, telling her to go home
# Mobs turn on foreigners
Locals daub names on homes to avoid mobs mistaking them for foreigners
Two people were killed and more than 40 injured as Johannesburg’s
Alexandra township exploded in an orgy of xenophobic violence in the
past two days.
# Mobs turn on foreigners
The shocking violence is the latest in a spate of attacks on foreigners
across the country.
Last night, the Johannesburg City Council said those responsible for the
attacks were sowing seeds of division “not very different from our
racist apartheid past”.
The violence in Alexandra started on Sunday evening when an enraged mob
descended on a hostel in London Road, targeting foreigners, mainly from
Zimbabwe. They beat the immigrants, forced them from their rooms and
shot dead two men, one a South African who refused to participate in the
Police spokeswoman Neria Malefetse told The Times two women were raped
during the raids.
Yesterday evening, scores of immigrants were fleeing the area under the
protection of police. The Alexandra police station resembled a makeshift
refugee camp. And late last night, Malefetse said: “People are still
walking into the police station with their children and some of their
belongings. They feel a lot safer here; the situation is still tense.”
About 30 people were arrested, and police were looking for several other
Local businesses donated food and blankets to the refugees.
It remains unclear what ignited the powder keg of xenophobia in the
area, but residents yesterday blamed foreign nationals for a spate of
robberies and violent crime.
Loren Landau, director of the Forced Migration Studies Programme at Wits
University, said xenophobic attacks were becoming increasingly frequent
— against the backdrop of worsening social and economic pressures faced
by poor South Africans.
“These are tumultuous times,” she said. “There is a lot of uncertainty
and disillusionment among South Africans, coupled with increases in
food, fuel and electricity prices ... ”
She said most illegal immigrants moved into empoverished neighbourhoods
and informal settlements.
‘South Africans were promised some sort of rebirth after 1994 and they
are still waiting for the benefits. They now blame foreigners for their
frustrated dreams,” Landau said.
“The poor feel marginalised, neglected and worse off than before. In the
absence of the government addressing their legitimate concerns, they are
looking for scapegoats.”
Jack Redden, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said
the government needed a robust, short-term response to the attacks.
“You can’t have people going around attacking others and burning down
their homes, regardless of whether they are local or foreign. The
immediate need is for better policing and prosecution. The law must be
He said although there are about 40000 recognised refugees and asylum
seekers in South Africa, exact figures are unknown because many
foreigners are economic migrants from countries such as Zimbabwe.
“South African policy also has a role to play, as refugees are not
isolated in refugee camps like in other countries. Here, they mix with
the locals and seek work opportunities,” Redden said.
The City of Johannesburg last night issued a statement condemning the
attacks: “For years we have stayed, worked, played and worshipped God
together. Ours has been and will continue to be an inclusive city. We
strongly dis approve of the attacks that occurred in Alexandra township
and are calling on communities to refrain from violent attacks or
# Siphiwe Madondo, 41, was murdered on Sunday night after he allegedly
refused to take part in the attacks on foreigners.
His shack mate, Pretty Ndzimbovu, said: “He was already shot when we
were taking him to the clinic at around 10.30pm. He fell and asked me to
get a car for him and the police, but a man appeared and shot him [a
second time] in the chest.”
She said Madondo’s body lay in the street all night .
Nosipho Madondo, the dead man’s sister, was too distraught to speak. She
sobbed as goats strolled past her brother’s body
# Yvonne Ndlovu, from Bulawayo, was making her way to a phone booth to
call for help yesterday, blood streaming down her face. The mob had
arrived at her London Road shack and attacked her yesterday as police
dealt with Madondo’s corpse up the road.
Adding insult to injury, four women mocked the bloody Ndlovu, telling
her she should go home.
# Willex Katundu, his face criss- crossed with stitches and caked in
dried blood, worried where he would sleep last night.
A Malawian who has lived in Alexandra for 23 years, he said he had gone
to investigate gunshots on Sunday night. “I was beaten up by about 10
people because I am not South African.”
Last night Katundu, his wife and their three children joined the exodus
Meanwhile, in an act reminiscent of Passover, some terrified South
Africans started marking their shacks with their surnames, Madondo,
Ndlovu, Masinga, Cele ...
But some Alex residents openly supported the xenophobic attacks.
Thumi Ntswane said: “We are not trying to kill anyone but rather solving
the problems of our own country. The government is not doing anything
about this, so I support what the mob is doing.”
A group carrying posters warning “We don’t want any foreigners”
congregated near the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.
South African Account:
A number of Xenophobic attacks took place when the mob from the hostel
in the township closed down shops.
Most of them are owned by non-South Africans.
"Rafiq", a tuck-shop owner who refused to give his surname, was
horrified by the attacks and said he is now forced by the police to
close down shop until the attacks quitened down. "The don’t want us
(foreigners) here. We had clothes and bags on the outside and the mob is
stealing them" said "Rafiq".
Thumi Ntswane from the township supports the violence. He said:"We are
not trying to kill anyone but rather solving the problems of our own
country. The government is not doing anything about this, so I support
what the mob is doing to get rid of foreigners in our country."
Residents around the shops and houses near by waited with bated breath
to see if arrests would be made and Zimbabweans would be attacked. They
did not want to be identified - fearing that they would be investigated
by the police. All they could say was "the mob said these attacks will
only end on the 30th of this month".
Another resident, Mashudu Shabani, said alot of people who have jobs did
not go to work on the day because the mob want Zimbabweans out.
It was all smiles for most of the residents in the township as non-South
Africans were packing up and trying to find shelter elsewhere. Most of
the residents believe foreigners are taking their jobs in the country
instead of going back to their homelands to fix their own problems.
After an hour of non-violent attacks community leaders came to address
Nhlanhla Msimang said "it is wrong of the community members to be
Xenophobic instead of sorting this out verbally. This is not political
but an issue of theft."
Inspector Moses Maphakela said illegal immigrants and some members of
the Alexandra community would have a meeting to try solve the issue.
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