Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Life has been hard for many families after last year's xenophobic attacks.

Abilio Quana, from Mozambique, a "loving father and a good husband", was forced to flee his home in Ramaphosa, near Reiger Park in Ekurhuleni, at the height of the attacks in May last year.

Now his wife Nombulelo Tshoni only sees her husband of 10 years every two months.

Quana is still scared of driving into the township and waits for his family at a garage some distance away.

Tshoni has to arrange transport to ferry her and their five children to the meeting point. They do some shopping and then head for a nearby park to spend some precious time together.

After a few hours of talking and playing with his children, Quana, a miner, returns to Carletonville on the West Rand, where he moved after the attacks.

"Our lives have been turned upside down," Tshoni said. "The thought of what happened last year still hurts me. It brings back bad memories and anger over what has happened to us.

"My husband is too scared to return because we do not know whether the attacks will recur."

She still vividly remember the night of May 16 last year when the violence broke out in their area.

"We were asleep and we heard screams. When we heard foreigners were being attacked we just stayed put. My husband left home the next morning and has been living in Carletonville ever since.

"I was forced to leave my home and seek refuge at the police station for four days. I was nearly killed for standing up for our foreign brothers and sisters."

The xenophobic attacks started in Alexandra on May 12 but soon spread across the country. The violence claimed 62 lives, hundreds were injured and thousands were forced out of their homes.

The attacks were mainly directed at foreigners but Tsonga and Pedi-speaking people were also targeted.

"If we had money we would buy a house elsewhere where we would live together as a family again. We are not happy any more."