Reintegration is 'nearing completion'

Anna Majavu

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said yesterday that the reintegration into their previous communities of victims of the recent xenophobic attacks was almost complete.

Nqakula said of more than 43000 people displaced in May, only 9000 remained in refugee camps. Of those 5175 remained in refugee camps in Western Cape and about 3000 in Gauteng camps.

He was speaking at a national memorial tribute to victims of the attacks on foreign nationals and South Africans held at the Pretoria City Hall.

Nqakula's spokesman, Hungwani Mulaudzi, said the minister would convene a national meeting of all community police forums in South Africa to establish networks in communities to "give advice on any pending attacks" in future.

Pastor Patrick Diba, spokesman for Amakhaya Ngoku, a community-based organisation in the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town, encouraged communities to go to the refugee camps and invite displaced people to return to their communities.

Meanwhile, the Coalition Against Xenophobia said that victims must be compensated.

"We escaped with just the clothes on our backs. We need to rebuild our lives. A memorial tribute in Pretoria isn't going to make this any easier," said coalition spokesman Pastor John Mulumba.

The chief of operations in the Presidency, Trevor Fowler, told Sowetan that there would be no compensation for the victims.

"The attacks involved criminal activities. If we did [offer compensation] we would have to accommodate every crime victim," Fowler said.

The Vaal Community Forum (VCF) said yesterday that most foreign nationals had not left the Vaal communities because the organisation had formed patrols to stop the attacks within the first days.

VCF leader Meshack Tladi said: "We must ask why. It is because there is a housing shortage and high unemployment."

Mulumba and Tladi both voiced concern that the violence against refugees was still continuing.