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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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Xenophobia scare

By Anna | May 29, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

FEARS of last year's xenophobic attacks are rising among foreign nationals in the Western Cape.

This started after Gugulethu business people allegedly held a series of secret meetings discussing how to remove foreign traders from the area.

A Gugulethu businessman told Sowetan yesterday, on condition of anonymity, that local business people have held several meetings over the past three weeks, planning "what to do against foreigners". The next meeting will take place on Sunday.

"They are complaining that their business is declining and they are furious. They are talking about foreign businesses being the major problem," the source said.

The story was confirmed by another independent source in the community.

Now foreign nationals fear a repeat of the xenophobic violence that swept the country last May, leaving more than 150000 displaced, and hundreds more raped or murdered.

Last Sunday in Samora Machel near Nyanga, a group of 25 men identifying themselves as local business people instructed Somali shopkeepers to close shop by today.

"They told me they would be back on June 3 to check. If they close this shop I don't know what I am going to do," Fareed Yusuf said.

Nyanga police said they were monitoring the situation. Captain Ntomboxolo Ntsititsi told Sowetan yesterday that they were due to deploy more police officers in the area today.

Congress of the People (Cope) provincial leader and MP in the Western Cape, Mbulelo Ncedane, said the plans to drive out foreign shopkeepers had spread to Masiphumelele, an informal settlement where a wave of xenophobia in 2006 which resulted in the death of 30 Somalis.

Mncedisi Twalo of the Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign, which opposes xenophobia, said they were trying their best to resolve the issue.

Nafcoc Gugulethu branch secretary Nkosana Tancu said his organisation did not support any move to drive out foreign traders. ANC provincial chairperson Garth Strachan said they were working towards finding a solution.


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