residents walk out on safety mec
A MEETING meant to quell xenophobic violence between residents of Westernburg in Polokwane and Zimbabwean nationals degenerated into a tense stand-off yesterday.
The meeting was organised by the department of safety and security and police at the Westernburg Community Hall in Limpopo. It was also attended by MEC for safety and security Dikeledi Magadzi and government officials.
Tensions rose when angry residents demanded the immediate release of fellow residents who were arrested after the attacks on Monday.
Police say 12 people were arrested in connection with the attacks and face charges of public violence, assault and attempted murder.
The residents told Magadzi that they would only start the meeting if those arrested were released. They also demanded that representatives of political parties other than the ANC attend the meeting.
They also demanded that the Zimbabweans leave their area within 24 hours. They accused Zimbabwean nationals of being responsible for a spate of criminal activities in the area.
They also accused the immigrants of being responsible for the murder of Steven Hamilton, 23, on Sunday and the alleged rape of a young girl in the area.
Magadzi, however, told the residents not to take the law into their own hands as "you too would be arrested".
"If anyone has concrete information about the people who killed Hamilton, then provide us with that information. We will see to it that the law deals with the suspects. We are aware that some of you sell drugs to young people but point fingers at Zimbabweans," she said.
In response, some residents walked out, shouting derogatory words at Magadzi and the police.
Police spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe told Sowetan that the six Zimbabweans who were admitted to the Polokwane Provincial Hospital after they were brutally assaulted and left to die in the street by residents were discharged yesterday.