Xenophobic attacks persist as minister steps in

McKeed Kotlolo

McKeed Kotlolo

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe MapisaNqakula and Tshwane Metro executive mayor Gwen Ramokgopa stepped in to quell the ongoing xenophobic violence that has gripped an informal settlement in Atteridgeville.

The visit by the two leaders to the area followed alleged xenophobic attacks that have so far claimed the lives of four people, two locals and two foreigners.

The latest victims are Zim babwean Chamunorwa Kufandada, 37, and a South African whose identity is not known.

The Zimbabwean was allegedly dragged out of his house by a group of people who assaulted him with an assortment of weapons and stones. They later threw him into his burning house in Brazaville.

The unidentified South African was allegedly trapped in a shack that was being looted and set alight.

Both men were burnt beyond recognition.

Residents in the informal settlement condemned the attacks, saying the violence was the work of criminals who took advantage of last week's protest march against relocation.

"We live peacefully together," said a young mother in Jeffsville. 'Their shops help us a lot because we no longer have to travel long distances."

Meanwhile, residents went about their business as usual while the police monitored the situation.

The police confirmed that three people were arrested in connection with the attacks, arson and looting of property belonging to foreigners.

After the tour of the informal settlement, the minister and the executive mayor, accompanied by various community leaders and the police, visited the temporary refugee centre at Matseke Primary School in Atteridgeville, near the police station.

They appealed for calm, good behaviour and advised against revenge.

Mapisa-Nqakula said they were working on a plan to return the refugees to their property and to ensure that there was peaceful and permanent integration between the locals and foreigners.

She said what happened was regrettable because the same foreigners supported South Africans during the struggle against apartheid.

This message was supported by Ramokgopa and the deputy regional representative of the UN high commissioner for refugees Abel Mbilinyi.

Mapisa-Nqakula is expected back in Atteridgeville today for a meeting with leaders of the settlement.