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23 May 2008 09:41
Criminals are using xenophobia as a “perfect excuse” to commit crime, KwaZulu-Natal safety and security minister Bheki Cele said on Friday.
He was responding as details of several overnight attacks on foreigners were reported to police.
“I am just concerned that criminals are using xenophobia as an excuse to commit crimes ... Why else would they steal the foreigners’ belongings? If you want someone to leave, you just tell them and then watch them leave ...
Why does one have to chase them and steal their goods?” he asked.
He said he had spoken to some foreigners and was told “astounding things”.
“I was told that those attacking foreigners had a list of all the foreigners and details of where they stayed.
Police spokesperson Director Phindile Radebe said that on Thursday night two homes in Durban’s Kenville area “allegedly belonging to foreigners” were torched. No injuries were reported.
eThekwini fire department divisional commander Bruce de Gier said firefighters had responded to a house on fire in Kenville Road at 1am on Friday morning. “This was ironic because a day before, the house right next door on the same road was also torched,” he said.
De Gier said of Thursday’s incident: “They were apparently chased away and their home torched.”
Two cases of arson are being investigated.
Cele, meanwhile, said police were aware of who the arsonist was. “He is a KwaMashu taxi conductor who has left his job. We are hunting for him right now and we know he was the one who torched the homes in Kenville ... and these were homes of foreigners,” he said.
Cele said there was a separate incident at the Kenville informal settlement on Thursday night where a shack was burnt down. “Two foreigners were injured in that incident as well.”
Meanwhile, a 23-year-old Malawian man was shot as hundreds of foreigners gathered at Durban’s Cato Manor police station on Thursday night.
Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said the man had been shot twice in the abdomen. He was in a serious but stable condition at a local hospital.
The man was the second Malawian to be shot in Durban in as many days. A Malawian was taken to hospital on Wednesday night after he was shot twice in the chest in the same area.
At the Cato Manor police station, about three hundred foreigners—mostly Zimbabweans, Mozambicans and Malawians—had gathered for fear of possible attacks.
In Chatsworth, dozens of foreigners sought shelter at a local community hall also for fear of becoming a victim of xenophobia. - Sapa
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