Joburg starts campaign to fight xenophobia

THE City of Johannesburg's migrant help desk has started a campaign to educate members of the public about the dangers of xenophobia.

Migrant help desk regional coordinator Sanele Mayisela said yesterday: "There are rumours that foreigners will be attacked after the World Cup. These rumours cannot be ignored."

She was speaking at a seminar at the Coronationville Recreation Centre in Johannesburg. The seminar, aimed at coming up with strategies to counter xenophobic attacks, coincided with World Refugee Day celebrations. The day is celebrated annually.

"These xenophobic attacks started in May 2008. Our aim is to educate people and communities. We want to preach humanity," Mayisela said.

Hundreds of foreigners were injured and more than 20 died during the attacks two years ago.

Coronationville Community Policing Forum member Mohammad Zaki said they had established street and block committees for community members to report any criminal activities.

"Every community in our area has a plan in place to fight these attacks," he said.

Business Forum chairperson Alec Keet said local businesspeople felt threatened by foreigners, mainly Somalis.

"In the community I live in Somalis are granted business permits, while South Africans are not. It's very frustrating," Keet said.