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24 Feb 2017 15:04
Police fired rubber bullets at protesters who held an anti-immigrant march in Tshwane. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)
From around 3am, residents of Atteridgeville took to the streets to demonstrate their discontent with the level of drugs, particularly nyaope, in their neighbourhood.
This followed several eruptions of violence directed at foreign nationals.
“They must come here and add value, we are gatvol,” said Job Mathubo, a resident of Pretoria West.
The protesters said foreign nationals are to blame for the high level of drug use in the area.
“Nyaope is not a South African thing. Before these people invaded our country did you hear of nyaope? During Mandela’s time did people talk about nyaope? No,” said Thapelo Ndlovu, who expressed his rage at the police’s violent attempts to quell their protest.
“As you can see, we just got here and we are already being shot at.
Look at his leg,” he said, pointing at another protester.
“This is not right.
The march made its way to Pretoria West and was instantly met with a heavy police presence.
Police patrolled several streets in the city, particularly the Luttig and Es’kia Mphahlele intersection, where there is a high concentration of shops owned by foreign nationals and the Luttig and Retief intersections where people made their way to a Mosque.
Police were on stand by to prevent protesters from obstructing people who were going to the mosque.
Some of the foreign nationals stood in front of the police water cannon with their hands in the air shouting “for what? for what?” before pointing it to a different direction.
“Here they can just wait at the mosque but not shoot us for nothing. They must protect our brothers in other areas”, said foreign national.
A group calling itself the Mamelodi Concerned Residents intended to hand over a memorandum to the home affairs department.
“How will we hand in the memorandum when they are shooting at us?” said one protester.
Shops owned by foreign nationals were shut as police dispersed protesters with rubber bullets and water cannons.
Some protesters sought temporary refuge in nearby yards in an attempt to avoid police as they patiently waited for another opportunity to make their way to the home affairs building.
“They are lying. This has nothing to do with drugs. If this is for drugs why are our stores being looted?” Somalian shop owner Abdi Kadir asked.
“We do not sell drugs. In fact, as Somalians, we loathe drugs and any illegal substance. If one of us was looting we would kill him or her ourselves. We do not need help. It is our culture to despise such. We are inherently anti-drugs,” he continued.
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