Chiefs want crisis talks

Michael Sakuneka

Michael Sakuneka

A group of chiefs plan to hold an urgent meeting with President Thabo Mbeki and ANC president Jacob Zuma to discuss the effect of the recent spate of xenophobic attacks.

The Tsonga-speaking chiefs , at a meeting attended by all Tsonga traditional leaders in Giyani, Limpopo, made the decision at the weekend.

Spokesman for the chiefs, Eric Nxumalo, said the recent xenophobic attacks had affected many Shangaan-speaking people living in Gauteng.

Some of them had had their shacks burnt down and their goods stolen by the attackers because they were thought to have come from Mozambique.

Nxumalo said many Shangaans were forced to leave their jobs and flee to their homes in Limpopo.

"Our people became victims only because they spoke Shangaan and were staying in Gauteng. They were seen as Mozambicans or Zimbabweans who had come to take jobs from the local people," he said.

He said the victims had also called on the chiefs to encourage their subjects to help those who had lost their goods with donations such as clothes and food.

Meanwhile, about 80 illegal immigrants who were forced to flee their homes in Mohlaletse village in the Sekhukhune area returned to their homes in the village at the weekend.

The immigrants, mostly Mozambicans and Zimbabwean nationals, were welcomed back by the acting king of Bapedi Kgoshi Kgagudi, Kenneth Sekhukhune III, during a special ceremony at the village on Sunday.

Acting Limpopo premier Aaron Motsoaledi said they had since realised the attacks were carried out by criminals who wanted to rob the foreigners of cash and their valuable items.

The immigrants had been temporarily accommodated at the Apel police station since the outbreak of xenophobic attacks early last month.