Metrorail on high alert for attacks

Metrorail has beefed up security in response to possible xenophobic attacks on train commuters, it said on Wednesday.

“Our own protection services, the South African railway police and contracted security staff have been beefed up in response to the perceived threat and in support of our security plan,” the company said in a statement.

During her visit to Ramaphosa informal settlement near Reiger Park on the East Rand on Tuesday night, African National Congress national executive committee member Winnie Madikizela-Mandela warned commuters that the continued attacks in Gauteng might target train commuters on Wednesday morning.

Metrorail said public and commuter safety were imperatives that would never be compromised.

“It must be noted that crime threat analysis and risk assessment are performed on an ongoing basis to ensure the optimal deployment of our security resources and accurate identification of flashpoints.”

Metrorail assured the public that issues pertaining to commuter safety were key to its operations, therefore, any threat perceived or real would be dealt with.

Commuters were urged to report any incident of crime and intimidation to the company’s 24 hour toll-free call centre number at 0800 12 70 70.

Foreigners ordered to leave KZN

At least 100 hostel dwellers converged on Durban’s Umbilo suburb on Wednesday, ordering foreigners to leave KwaZulu-Natal, police said.

Captain John Lazarus said many residents of the Dalton Road men’s hostel were armed with stones and bottles.

Since 6am they had been intimidating foreigners.

He said a mob had also struck at a Nigerian owned tavern on Tuesday night.

Provincial police spokesperson Director Phindile Radebe said a mob had gathered on some streets of Umbilo on Tuesday night and began “attacking” one of the taverns.

“Police went out and calmed the situation down and a case of public violence was opened—but no arrests were made.”

She said the people were sent back to the hostel.

“At this time we cannot confirm if this was related to the ongoing xenophobic attacks. As far as we are concerned, this was a criminal matter,” said Radebe.

However, the Mercury newspaper reported that at least six foreigners had been wounded in the incident, one with an axe.

Lazarus said the mob had continued intimidating Nigerian foreigners on Wednesday morning.

A large contingent of Metro police and officers from the South African Police Services were monitoring the situation.

A South African Press Association reporter at the scene said police had cordoned off a whole block between Durban’s Gale Street and Sydney Road.

In Canada Road, several people were seen standing on the roadside with their luggage, while broken glass was scattered along the nearby Melbourne road.

Residents of the hostel were heard shouting profanities from their windows at passing foreigners carrying their possessions.

Johannesburg calm

The situation in most xenophobia hot spots in Gauteng was relatively quiet on Wednesday morning, police said.

Gauteng police spokesperson Director Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said three people were shot and wounded at Phomolong in Tembisa on Tuesday night.
They were taken to hospital.

Their nationality has not yet been established, he said.

“Hundreds of people were dispersed overnight in Tembisa and seven people were arrested for pubic violence following a meeting by residents at Zone Four. Another crowd was also dispersed by police in Kya Sands.”

Mariemuthoo said one shack was set alight in Gugulethu and one in Ramaphosa on Tuesday night.

Mariemuthoo said reports about train commuters being targeted were nothing but rumours.

“There’s nothing like that,” said Mariemuthoo.

At least 25 people have been killed since the violence started last week.

The crisis has displaced hundreds of foreigners causing them to run for cover at police stations, churches and shelters with some even seeking government assistance to return back home. - Sapa

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