'I want to leave before I die'

FOREIGNERS living in Tshwane are contemplating going back to their home countries following rumours that xenophobic attacks will flare up after the World Cup.

Gravely concerned about the rumours, a 47-year-old Mozambican who runs a spaza shop in Mamelodi East said he would not wait to see if the threats were acted on.

"We were attacked in 2008 and I know how it feels to be attacked for nothing other than your nationality. People are already boasting about how they are going to kill us and rape our wives come the final whistle," said the man, who asked not to be named.

Somali national Mohammed Osman, who runs a grocery store in Atteridgeville, said foreigners were attacked whenever there were service delivery protests.

"In April I was attacked and my shop was looted by a group of people after the service delivery protest at Itireleng informal settlement. I am afraid and nobody cares about our safety.

"I take these threats seriously because we are under constant attacks. I want to leave before I die in a foreign country," he said.

Mathews Ngwenya, 43, who came from Mozambique 30 years ago, said: "I have been here for more than 30 years and I have been granted South African citizenship.

"All my children were born here so I do not know where to go. I am pleading with my fellow people to take some time to think deeply before they start attacking innocent people."

Secretary-general of the Gauteng Civic Association Themba Ncalo said xenophobic attacks would not stop until the government sorted out service delivery challenges.

Meanwhile in Cape Town, the police are taking the threats of xenophobia seriously.

Western Cape provincial police commissioner Mzwandile Petros has been holding weekly "safety forum" meetings with crime intelligence, the National Prosecuting Authority, refugee rights organisations and civil society groups to discuss the threat of another attack.

On Friday, Petros gave out a list of the cellphone numbers of all detective branch commanders in the province. They have been told to keep their phones on around the clock in case of emergencies.

And on Sunday, about 50 locals and foreigners, police and the former councillor from Philippi East, near Nyanga township, attended a meeting called by the NGO Africa Unite and the Institute for the Healing ofMemories.

The small crowd released a statement calling for more police patrols in all townships as the World Cup draws to a close.