Government defends camps for foreigners

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

The Gauteng government has defended its decision to move displaced foreign nationals into affluent suburbs around Johannesburg.

The people displaced by xenophobic violence, which started three weeks ago, are being placed in tent camps after being moved from the Bramley and Alexandra police stations.

The earmarked suburbs are Corlett Gardens and Country View in Midrand.

Residents in the areas are outraged because they were not informed that temporary shelters would be set up in their areas.

They are worried about a possible increase in crime and the devaluation of their properties.

Gauteng local government spokesman Thabo Masebe said: "This is an emergency situation. It is not always possible to consult residents about every decision."

Masebe said in resettling the foreigners the government wanted them to be as close as possible to where they originally lived.

"We are planning public meetings within the next two days to discuss the issue with residents," Masebe said. "We will ensure that there is visible policing in the residential areas wo which foreigners have been moved."

He said the situation would be only temporary.

"We do not expect the situation to go on for more than two months," he said. "We are currently talking to communities to try and reintegrate them into their communities."

The department did not know how much the Gauteng government had spent in providing shelter and other services since the outbreak of the xenophobic violence.

"It is hard to say how much we have spent because the costs are not incurred by one department," Masebe said.

The Gauteng government intends housing 10000 people in 1000 tents in 10 camps.

International aid organisation Oxfam has expressed concern about conditions in the shelters.

Oxfam said standards of humanitarian assistance, such as adequate water, sanitation and security facilities, had not been met.