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Locals' home burnt down

By unknown | Apr 29, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Sipho Masombuka

Sipho Masombuka

There is a family among the scores of victims of alleged xenophobic attacks who are temporarily being accommodated at a community hall in Mamelodi in Pretoria.

Ruth Masemola, 28, her partner Freddie Baloyi, daughters Khentsani, 5, and a year-old Doris from Malamulele in Limpopo said they were attacked because they are Tsonga.

Masemola said: "The attackers told us just before they set our shack on fire that Tsonga-speaking people are not welcome here."

The more than 200 foreigners who are victims of alleged xenophobic attacks are temporarily being accommodated at the Stanza Bopape community hall in Mamelodi East in Pretoria.

Masemola said: "We pleaded with the mob to spare us, that we are South Africans and we even showed them our IDs as proof."

The refugees said they were satisfied with their temporary accommodation, but did not have enough food and blankets.

Ernest Sambo from Zimbabwe said more than 10 people share a loaf of bread and then they wait patiently for the last meal of the day, porridge and soup.

Sambo said: "The Red Cross gave us blankets, but we need more because it gets very cold at night."

Another Zimbabwean, Lancelot Junction, 25, said he ran away from hunger and brutality in his home country and had hoped for a better life in South Africa. He said he did not know that the hospitality he received when he arrival last year would be short- lived.

"There is nothing more painful for a man than to see his wife and children reduced to charity cases.

"I am a shoemaker and a carpenter making an honest living, but that seems to be a crime in South Africa.

"Coming here was like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire," Junction said.

He said social welfare officials visited the shelter on Monday and want to take the women and children to a better place.

Junction said: "But we do not want to be separated from our families."

Antony Nyalunga, 49, who was born in Mozambique, said Department of Home Affairs officials told them that they should go back to their country because it was not safe to stay in South Africa.

"But I have been here for the past 24 years and am a South African citizen. How can I go back to a country where I am not a citizen?" asked Nyalunga.

All the parents are concerned about their children's schooling.

Anannias Mbanze, who represents the Mozambican Welfare Association in South Africa, said he met Mozambican embassy officials to see if they could give the refugees food and other necessities like transport for those who want to go home.

Tshwane municipal spokesman, Console Tleane, said its social development and health department was helping out wherever possible.

Ward councillor Sarah Khashane refuted allegations of food shortages as "a blatant lie".

Khashane said: "We go all out to ensure that they eat well, but they thank us by lying. Council does not have a budget. The food comes from charities and churches.

"They get two meals a day and they demand three meals of their choice a day," Khashane said.


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