Western Cape ‘calm’ after violence

The Western Cape was calm during the day on Monday following Sunday’s outbreak of xenophobic violence, a police spokesperson said.

Police and troops would however remain out in force overnight, Captain Frederick van Wyk said.

He said no incidents were reported during the day.

Earlier on Monday Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his defence colleague Lindiwe Sisulu flew down to the province from Pretoria to get firsthand reports from senior law enforcement officers.

Excuse for criminal behaviour
Mthethwa’s spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said it had been discovered that criminals were using xenophobia as an excuse to create “anarchy and anxiety”.


“Any criminality disguised as xenophobia won’t be tolerated,” he said.

Sisulu said in a statement the army would do all it could to help the police and vowed that anybody who targeted foreigners would be “dealt with”.

“Opportunistic criminals must know that we will deal with them harshly, there is no way we will allow them to spread fear and crime.”

The police’s Van Wyk said there were “sporadic incidents of looting” on Sunday night at shops belonging to foreigners on the Cape Flats, and in Wellington, Paarl, Franschhoek and Klapmuts.

Seven men, aged between 19 and 30, had been arrested in the Nyanga area and were charged with public violence, he said.

Refuge
The spokesperson for provincial disaster management Daniella Ebenezer said 70 foreigners had sought refuge on Sunday night at the Mbekweni police station in Paarl and 22 at Wellington.

There were smaller numbers at police stations in Franschhoek and on the Cape Flats.

She said there were “sporadic” attacks on shops on Saturday in the region, and “some incidents of looting” on Sunday.

No-one had been seriously injured.

She said according to reports from police, spaza shops and containers used as shops were “damaged” in Mbekweni, Paarl East, Wellington and Nyanga on Sunday.

The province’s community development workers had been providing information to authorities on what was happening on the ground.

Mediators deployed to communities last week would continue their efforts.

“Provincial and local government are on standby to provide humanitarian support, should this be required,” she said.

There have been rumours that xenophobic violence was likely in the aftermath of the 2010 Fifa World Cup and that foreigners were fleeing the Western Cape in anticipation of attacks.

Mthethwa last week angrily dismissed the speculation. He said an investigation had shown that those leaving were foreign migrant workers returning home.

In an apparent reference to Western Cape premier Helen Zille, he accused politicians who had raised the spectre of violence of being “peddlers of fear”.

In a statement, the Western Cape ANC urged communities to fight xenophobia in the province and to demonstrate a “spirit of humanity” beyond the soccer World Wup. –Sapa

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