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By unknown | Jul 21, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

Johannesburg south residents want displaced victims of xenophobic attacks sheltering in tents in the suburb of Glenanda to leave.

And the government has also warned the foreigners that today will be the last day for them to be fingerprinted for temporary identity documents. Those who refuse to do so face deportation.

Some Glenanda residents did not mince their words. They said the immigrants at the camp were "exploiting" the kindness of the government and should go.

But a confrontation between the locals and immigrants seemed inevitable since some said they would resist the government's latest effort to reintegrate them into their communities. This included fingerprinting and issuing of temporary IDs.

The Glenanda temporary shelter, which initially accommodated 2000 people, is the largest of the six in Gauteng set up after the May 11 xenophobic attacks.

Olga Kepadisa of Haddon said yesterday: "The problem is that they are now exploiting the government. I have heard that they sell the food that is given to them at the shelter.

"Holding hostage the same guards that look after them is uncivilised. They must not behave like animals."

Kepadisa was referring to violent clashes between the police and camp residents on Thursday, when the migrants threw stones at the police who had gone to free four guards held hostage overnight.

The police fired rubber bullets and arrested 10 migrants.

"Why doesn't the government just send them home?" asked Portia Senwedi. "It doesn't help keeping them here. It only means there is money to feed them while we continue to suffer."

Yesterday visitors and Sowetan were barred from entering the camp "until further notice" while mediation was in progress.

From behind the fence a Congolese man said life at the shelter was "not good".

"There's frustration and intimidation from the government. They want to take our fingerprints," said the unidentified man before a group of men surrounded him and chastised him for speaking to us.

"Please disappear," one of the men said. "The people have nothing to say to you. Please go before you bring us trouble. Come back later."

Security guards said the shelter would be closed because mediation was in progress. Guards at various points warned residents against speaking to us.

"Please leave," one guard pleaded. "Management does not want you here. These people see you and they flock to the fence to speak to you."

Linda Mimi from Zambia said she did not want an ID.

"I am a refugee," Mimi said. "I have papers that allow me to be here for two years. Why should I take a card that gives me only six months?

"If the card is for access to the camp why do they need a picture of me and my fingerprints? They can't deport me. I have papers."

Sandra Kibangu from the DRC said no one had explained to them why they needed the IDs.

"They just said we had have them. I don't want it. I have refugee papers. They can't deport me.''

Government officials would not budge yesterday and said the foreigners should comply or face the consequences.

"We are registering them and will then let them decide in the next six months whether they want to apply for asylum and remain in the country or go back home," said Cleo Mosana of Home Affairs.


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