Tag Archives: immigrants

SA thugs burn another Mozambican man to death

According to this BBC report, an angry mob in Atteridgeville, a township near Pretoria, stoned and then set a Mozambican man alight. This comes only a few weeks after pictures of a man burning alive were splashed across the pages of newspapers globally.

Xenophobia lingers on – and until there are active measures in place to deal with the scourge and its causes, it will persist. It is horrifying to think of the depth of hatred and the moral vacuum that must exist to engender such a deliberate and vicious action. There is clearly no regard for the sanctity of human life amongst the perpetrators. No wonder our violent crime statistics rank amongst the highest in the world!



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Mkwere mkwere memories: ‘The police — they just laugh at us’

The two Congolese men that arrive on the church’s doorstep look shaken and defeated. They explain that their house in Samora Machel has been ransacked and burnt down; there is nowhere for them to go. Could they spend the night here, at the Claremont Methodist church?

Unfortunately the church is full so, after a hot meal has been provided, we give them a lift to Lotus River Methodist, which still has space. In the car they tell us their story. They’ve been in Cape Town for about five years. The previous Thursday they were on their way from their car-washing job to the Claremont station when a few black police officers spotted them. They searched them up against a wall before tearing up their immigration papers, arresting them and throwing them into a police van.

They spent the weekend incarcerated; then on Monday, at the Department of Home Affairs, a kindly woman recognised them, provided them with new papers and ensured they were released.

On Tuesday their house was attacked. They say that in Samora looters went from house to house, asking the nationality of the residents inside. If you’re an immigrant they entered and ransacked the place, taking everything of value. Then they called the mobs to come and burn the place down.

They went to the police station and reported what had happened. The police officers on duty were drunk and just laughed at them. Wednesday night was spent in the rain at the car park where they wash cars.

On Thursday night, they come to the church. The two men are stunned, shell-shocked by what’s happening to them. They can’t understand the madness. Among the mob that burnt their house down were local people they knew.

They tell us about their friend, also from the DRC, who was travelling by train last Monday morning from Cape Town station. Stuck in an overcrowded third-class carriage, the mob inside started asking him the meaning for isiXhosa words (doubtlessly they didn’t ask for the definition of “ubuntu”). When he couldn’t answer, they began beating him. As the train was approaching a bridge near Mowbray, the passengers tried to open the door of the carriage to throw him out. Fortunately the double doors refused to budge.

Badly beaten, the friend got out at Mowbray station. When he explained what had just had happened to the Xhosa security guards, they laughed at him. He went then went to the police where his story also elicited much mirth. “You’re a man — you should be able to defend yourself,” they said between bouts of laughter.

Immigrants are being subjected to senseless, brutal discrimination — apartheid by any other name. Immigrants in the eyes of certain South Africans are sub-humans: fair game for vilification, abuse and persecution. The chaos of the past few weeks may have quietened down but, tragically, the stigma of mkwere mkwere lingers, perpetuated by those who should know better.


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When will the madness end?

There are five Zimbabweans visiting my house; they’ve come for a shower after spending a night at the Claremont Methodist Church in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. It’s too dangerous for them to return home. 25 000 others like them have also been forced to flee for their lives while barbaric attacks rage and immigrants are hunted down, their clothes, and furniture stolen.

South Africa has shown its guests the finger. Who knows how long it will be before life can return back to normal for these poor people – how long will it be before the madness fades away and sanity and tolerance can once again prevail?

Speaking from Harare, Cathy Buckle has the following to say in her latest newsletter:

How can it be, that without warning and when Zimbabweans need support and refuge more than ever before, this can be happening across the border. Our temporary sanctuary, the place where we felt safe and could find food, friendship and compassion has suddenly gone. Which way now for our poor people? Too frightened to stay, too frightened to go.

Will immigrants be allowed back into the communities they have recently become a part of? Will the looting, beatings and burglaries come to an end?

I certainly hope so.

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Anti-xenophobia march in Cape Town

Below is a press release from the refugee advocacy group PASSOP providing details on a march to Parliament on Saturday, 17 May. If you’re in town, be there!!

Press release from PASSOP

PASSOP (People Against Suffering Suppression Oppression and Poverty) is appalled by the reports of recent xenophobic attacks in Alexandria and Diepsloot. We are appealing to all political parties and social movements within South Africa to address and clarify their stances towards the important issue of xenophobia. Foreigners in townships across South Africa live in fear, much like the Jews during the Nazi Regime. Their homes are vandalized, their stores looted and even their lives are taken. This inhumanity cannot be allowed to continue.

The DHA (Department of Home Affairs) and the police must immediately stop claiming ignorance as to the situation in which immigrants are forced to live in, they are undocumented no illegal by choice. They are being treated like criminals in townships across South Africa. The South African government has failed to document refugees in a timely manner. The refugees should not be punished for governmental shortcomings.

Following the post election violence in Zimbabwe, the number of refugees has only increased while the number of refugees documented by the government is marginal. This is deplorable. We implore the political parties of South Africa to engage in a dialogue about xenophobia and to add this issue to their branch agendas. We demand a quick, efficient police response. Townships where violence and looting has already occurred must be labeled “red zones” by the government, extra police and security be provided to ensure the safety and security of the immigrants living there. These red zone must include Danoon, Worcester, Masipumelela and any other areas which have a history of xenophobic attacks. We demand protection be provided to all refugees, asylum seekers and foreigners living in townships. We also demand that African leaders stop supporting the Mugabe regime.

We are protesting!! PASSOP, COSATU, the SACP, the ANC, C.E.C.A and other organizations will unite in protest on Saturday the 17th of May 2008 to show disapproval of the attacks, and our anger with the Zimbabwean regime which is forcing a mass migration into South Africa.

Marching from Kaisergracht (opposite Cape Technikon) to parliament.

12-00 – 14-00

For comment

PASSOP-Braam Hanekom 0832561140

C.E.C.A (Angolan Community)- Pedro Seke 0825129096

COSATU- Mike Louw 0844777104

–end of press release–

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