JOHANNESBURG – More than 60 Zimbabwean immigrants who were left injured and
homeless in xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg on Wednesday appealed to
immigration authorities to send them back home to Zimbabwe, saying it was no
longer safe for them to stay in South Africa.
“We are now appealing to Home Affairs to take us back. We want to go back to
our country, it’s not easy to stay in South Africa. Anywhere in South
Africa, we are not safe . . . we came here for jobs and this is what we
get,” said Tariro Mudavanhu, a victim of the xenophobic attacks.
She added, “They insulted us. They screamed, they shouted and said get out .
. . they said leave everything. They demanded cellphones and money?.”
Xenophobic violence broke out in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra when
a group of South African men attacked foreign nationals around midnight on
Sunday setting off ugly scenes of assault, looting, rape and destruction of
Foreign nationals mostly from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe had to seek
refuge at Alexandra police station after they were assaulted and driven off
out of the shacks in which they were living.
A Zimbabwean pressure group National Constitution Assembly (NCA), which has
an office in South Africa office, other human rights organisations and well
wishers yesterday, distributed blankets, clothes and food to victims now
based at the police station.
“The NCA is concerned over the failure by the local security authorities to
protect both local and foreign nationals living in the country,” NCA
coordinator Tapera Kapuya said yesterday in Alexandra.
“As we condemn the Ministry of Safety and Security’s failure to put in place
measures in townships where foreign nationals live despite early warnings
over violence that took place in Pretoria, the NCA urges the South African
government to urgently show political will in protecting the rights of
non-nationals,” he added
South Africa’s official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party urged the
government to deploy the army to help calm the situation in Alexandra.
“The army should only be used in a civilian context in case of serious
emergency. But I believe we may have reached that stage. They should either
be reinforced so that they can, or the army should be brought in to back
them up,” a DA provincial legislator John Moodey said after visiting some of
The violence in Alexandra is the latest in a series of attacks on foreigners
in South Africa’s poor townships, where residents often struggle for scarce
Gauteng Member of the Executive Committee for Finance and Economic
Development Paul Mashatile, ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and
Gautengprovincial leaders on Wednesday visited Alexandra and met with
community leaders, ANC branch members and religious groups in an attempt to
find a way of avoiding further violence.
Meanwhile South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Wednesday
condemned the attacks on innocent immigrants labelling them as “anti-working
NUM secretary general Frans Baleni said: “It is totally unacceptable and
inexcusable that immigrants could be attacked for being immigrants in a
country which purports to support human rights.
“The working class and the poor should be united against the common enemy
such as oppressive regimes and capitalist exploitation. We cannot wage war
against each other. Workers of the world should unite and therefore we must
discourage this malady.”
NUM urged its members to take part in street marches called by the umbrella
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) later this week to protest
against rising food prices in South Africa and against the deteriorating
situation in Zimbabwe, which was forcing many of that country’s citizens to
flee to neighbouring countries.
An estimated three million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa and other
neighbouring states – many of them illegally – after fleeing their home
country because of political violence and worsening economic hardships. –
Â A victim of the xenophobic attacks.