Thousands mob KwaMashu police as xenophobic attacks continue

A looted shop from xenophobic attacks in January. (Oupa Nkosi, MG)

A looted shop from xenophobic attacks in January. (Oupa Nkosi, MG)

Foreign-owned shops in the township of in KwaMashu in KwaZulu Natal were looted and torched on Sunday evening as locals attempted to drive out immigrants from other African states.

Inkatha Freedom Party spokesperson Mdu Nkosi said police officers were overwhelmed by the advancing mob on Sunday.

“The councillor from A Section and the men’s hostel informed me that last night [Sunday] he had done his best to try and appease the mob that had gathered but he was powerless. There were thousands of them and they even overran the police,” he said.

“I am told that the police failed to disperse this mob that went on to rampage on the streets and destroy shops.”

‘Xenophobia spreading to all of Durban’
Nkosi said that they had called for calm, and would continue to do everything necessary to settle the crowd.

“This issue of xenophobia is not something that is limited to a specific ward and we see it now spreading to the whole of Durban.

“These people [foreign nationals] did not just appear here and while the overwhelming narrative is that they are here illegally and contribute towards high rates of crime, the ones being targeted are honest business people who have every right to trade in South Africa.

“These people uplift the economy and now there is an effort to drive them out. The government needs to step in.
They are our brothers and sisters and our councillors will continue to try and settle the situation,” he said.

Temporary shelter set up
This came as the situation in Durban’s townships remained tense with sporadic violence, usually perpetrated at night.

eThekwini Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala visited residents at Bottlebrush informal settlement in Chatsworth where she urged locals to allow displaced foreign nationals to return to the community.

Currently temporary shelter has been set up in Isipingo, Chatsworth and Greenwood Park to accommodate the displaced foreign nationals and additional police have been deployed to beef up security in all affected areas.

“The municipality has supplied tents, electricity, showers, ablution facilities and primary health care in the form of mobile clinics where the displaced foreign nationals have been accommodated,” eThekwini spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said.  

SA needs refugee camps
After the xenophobic attacks this weekend, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says people must be educated on the issue of “afrophobia”.

Mantashe also believes the solution to the so-called xenophobia in the country is establishing refugee camps.

“It’s afrophobia and if you look into the content you will see that it’s afrophobia, because when African refugees walk in here they walk in here and go to townships predominantly and there’s a scramble for resources there and the tension takes the form of afrophobia.”

“I think it was a good gesture for us to say people must live naturally, but ultimately we must have refugee camps so that we can document people.”

Last year the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said the term xenophobia, which has been used to describe the violence against foreigners, should be called afrophobia.

SAHRC chairperson, advocate Mabedle Lawrence Mushwana reportedly said at the time that there was a difference between xenophobia and violence committed against African foreigners in South Africa.

In KwaZulu-Natal on Friday, shops belonging to foreigners were looted in Durban’s Umlazi township. Two people thought to be Somalians were critically injured when their shop, in a shipping container, was petrol-bombed in W Section, Umlazi.

KwaZulu-Natal police said over 1 000 immigrants had fled their homes following violent attacks by Durban locals.

Soweto unrest
Attacks on foreigners flared up in Gauteng in January after 14-year-old Siphiwe Mahori was shot dead outside a Somali-owned shop in Snake Park, Soweto, allegedly by shop owner Alodixashi Sheik Yusuf. A group of people was apparently trying to break into his shop.

This led to a wave of looting of foreign-owned shops, which spread from Soweto to Kagiso on the West Rand and Sebokeng in the Vaal. Several people were killed, including a baby boy trampled by a group of looters.

Mantashe explained that people needed to be educated on the issue, which he blamed on poverty.

“The only thing that you can educate people on is when there are refugee camps and there is a clear relationship of communities and the refugee communities.

“What complicates the matter is that you have those refugees here documented, and you have other people who just walk in and they come here illegally and that complicates that space, and it becomes more complicated.” –

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