Yeoville gets help desk

RESIDENTS of Yeoville, Johannesburg, which has a large community of foreigners, mostly from other African countries, are setting up a help desk to manage any outbreak of attacks on foreigners after the World Cup.

RESIDENTS of Yeoville, Johannesburg, which has a large community of foreigners, mostly from other African countries, are setting up a help desk to manage any outbreak of attacks on foreigners after the World Cup.

The help desk is meant to provide a channel for residents to report threats of violence against foreigners and to try to intervene by encouraging dialogue.

Maurice Smithers of the Africa Diaspora Forum said the organisation had heard enough anecdotal evidence to convince them that the threat of violence was real.

The forum is not the only organisation on high alert. Last month Cabinet set up an Inter-ministerial Committee to deal with threats of attacks on foreigners.

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa warned in May that there were "widespread reports by foreign nationals around the country that they are being threatened with violence after the World Cup".

"While for now these threats are mainly verbal, taking them seriously and initiating strong and immediate preventive action by government and other institutions is the only way to ensure that the actual violence is avoided," said Cormsa in a statement.

Cormsa reported that "at least 10 incidents had occurred in 2010 already" in areas in Mpumalanga and Gauteng, which predominantly involved the looting of foreigners' shops.

"When people separate themselves, you get mistrust and prejudice," Smithers said.

He said Yeoville was a "geographic space occupied by migrants" lacking a sense of community and not taking "collective responsibility".

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