KwaZulu-Natal wants foreigners to stay

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The KwaZulu-Natal government yesterday said it would not force any displaced foreign nationals to go back to their countries of origin.

Instead it would attempt to re-integrate them into the communities in the province.

"We have given ourselves a deadline that the displaced foreigners should be integrated back into the communities by the end of next week," local government, housing and traditional affairs MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu said yesterday.

He made the announcement after leading a delegation on a visit to police stations and churches where the displaced foreigners are being sheltered in and around Durban.

He said community indabas would take place in the province to educate locals about the need to accept foreign nationals.

"We established the indabas to interact with the communities to make them aware that the actions of violence and intimidation of our fellow brothers and sisters are unacceptable.

"But we will continue to assess the situation in the community before we integrate the foreign nationals," he said.

He said the government was concerned about the situation foreign nationals were living under and applauded church leaders and police for the pivotal role they had played to ensure that the foreign nationals were safe.

"We have no intention to send the foreign nationals back to their countries.

"However, those who want to go back will be provided transport assistance to go back. Their governments must be involved and they should contact their ambassadors at the various consulates," Mabuyakhulu said.

Touched by the conditions families were living in outside the police stations, social development MEC Meshack Radebe ordered his department's officials to remove young children and their parents from all temporary camps built on the police property.

He said they must be taken to places of safety in and around the city.

"We need to ensure that these children also get special care and health attention," Radebe said.

"It will be a bad thing for all of us if we find that there is an innocent child who dies because of this situation. They live in cold tents and this is unacceptable.

"Those sheltered in the churches are indoors and have access to facilities while those in the camps live in the outdoors exposed to the cold," Hadebe said.

During the visit many victims broke down and cried.

The told the delegation that they had lost all their belongings.

Wilson Manjate, a Mozambican, said all he wanted to do was to go back home.

"I'm the breadwinner back at home. And, when this violence started, my money that I was going to use to give my mother a decent burial was taken away.

"She died that week when we were attacked.

"I have been working as an electrician fixing electrical appliances.

"But now I have nothing," he said, in tears.