Home Affairs helps the helpless

The Department of Home Affairs said yesterday it was assisting thousands of foreign nationals to leave the country immediately.

The Department of Home Affairs said yesterday it was assisting thousands of foreign nationals to leave the country immediately.

"Field workers are working round the clock in affected areas helping to process papers for those who are ready to go back to their countries. We are doing this so that they do not have any problems at the different borders," spokesman Mantshele Tau said.

But, Tau could not say exactly how many foreign nationals had come forward because the department officials were still registering people daily.

Some foreign nationals from Jabulani township were yesterday waiting to be transported by police to the Johannesburg Park Station to catch trains back home.

"Some foreign nationals slept at the police station. Five of them, from Zimbabwe and Mozambique, have signed affidavits saying that they want to be sent back home," said police spokesman Kay Makhubela.

"They say they do not want what has happened to others to happen to them."

Meanwhile, police in Jabulani township have called meetings to mobilise the community against further violence.

Captain Nomvula Mbense said: "We need to talk to the community and let them know that attacks will not be welcomed in the area.

"There were foreign nationals who spent the night at the Orlando police station," she said.

"They said they feared they would be attacked.

"We want to reassure them that their safety is guaranteed."

She said there had not been any attacks in that part of the township.

The Gauteng education department has encouraged school bodies to be sympathetic to pupils and teachers affected by the attacks.

Department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said: "We have a substantial number of foreign-born educators. We are encouraging our other teachers to fill in for them.

"We request schools to support all affected victims, especially pupils who might miss tests or deadlines to submit their work."

He said a school at the Ramphasa informal settlement on the East Rand was being used as an overnight shelter.

Lesufi said: "We currently do not have the figures on how many pupils are displaced but five weeks ago, when the attacks occurred in Mamelodi, 35 pupils were displaced."

Red Cross South Africa has made an urgent appeal to the public to make donations because the organisation had run out of resources.

"With xenophobic attacks flaring everywhere, our resources have been exhausted. We appeal to everyone to join the humanity chain and make a once-off R20 donation," said Pumi Yeni of the Red Cross.

Yeni said donors can SMS their names to 40779.

lSee also pages 14 and 16.