Refugees 'driving customers away'
The owner of a flourishing nursery in Haddon, south of Johannesburg, laments the losses he has suffered since a shelter for displaced immigrants was erected last week in Gillview, across from his business.
"The nursery has been like a morgue. People see the camp and drive away," said the disgruntled Leeways Garden Centre owner, who refused to give his name.
"I understand this is an emergency situation but there was no consultation. I own six properties but if I want to do anything I have to get permission from the council first."
Obakeng Kepadisa, 25, of Haddon, who lives in a block of flats across from the camp, was more accepting of the situation.
"I believe they are going to be here for two months," Kepadisa said. "As long as they stick to that I don't have a problem.
"People are quick to say they should go but I can't see why we can't assist others.".
Thabo Masebe, spokesman of the Gauteng task team on xenophobia, assured residents the shelters were temporary and would be demolished in two months.
"We plead with residents to bear with us and assure them that they will not be negatively affected by the shelters," Masebe said.
He said a decline in the number of displaced immigrants, from 20000 to 6000, was a "sign that reintegration had happened". He said ensuring immigrants were reintegrated into communities was not the government's responsibility.
"Our responsibility is to create a climate that is conducive to their becoming integrated. Communities have to play a greater role in guaranteeing their safety."
Masebe said the government had little control over where immigrants chose to live and had no obligation to provide them with accommodation on their return to communities.