South African residents have attacked migrants from African countries in a Johannesburg township, injuring at least five people and increasing concerns of a wave of xenophobia after the Soccer World Cup.
Local media said four of those injured at Kya Sands were from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The fifth was a South African who said his attackers refused to believe he was a local.
Tensions have long been building between South Africans and millions of foreign migrants they accuse of taking jobs and homes, but open animosity appeared to be put on hold during the World Cup as South Africa showed its best face to the world.
A spate of attacks on foreign workers in 2008 killed 62 people and damaged investor confidence. Another wave could wreck the positive image that Africa’s biggest economy was able to portray during the soccer tournament.
Running battles erupted late on Monday at Kya Sands after a robbery inside the township sparked anger between locals and foreigners, Eye Witness News website reported. It took police several hours to quell the unrest.
The webiste said two men had deep cuts to their heads. One said he had been attacked with an axe. A woman was carried out on her husband’s back, saying she had failed to outrun a mob and had been kicked in the chest.
Foreign migrants are estimated to make up more than 10% of South Africa’s population of about 49-million. Many are Zimbabweans who fled economic collapse at home.
Tents at the border
Meanwhile, a Zimbabwe official said on Monday that tents had been erected at Beitbridge — the main border crossing to South Africa — to house people fleeing the country.
“We have put three big tents in Beitbridge, 10 000 blankets, 20 boxes of laundry soap and 1 000 buckets,” said Madzudzo Pawadyira, head of the government’s civil protection unit.
“Indeed, there has been an increase of volume at Beitbridge, but this is not only confined to Zimbabweans, but this also includes other nationals from Zambia and Malawi,” Pawadyira said.
“Most of the people who were in South Africa are sending their children back home. Then you have those who are coming back because their usefulness in South Africa is no longer required. – Reuters, AFP