foreigners FLEE

FOREIGN nationals fearing renewed outbreaks of xenophobic violence continued to seek transport out of Cape Town yesterday.

FOREIGN nationals fearing renewed outbreaks of xenophobic violence continued to seek transport out of Cape Town yesterday.

About 70 Zimbabweans spent a bitterly cold night sleeping in the open at a Cape Town truck stop, hoping to get a lift home.

On Monday morning about 300 Zimbabweans began arriving at the Engen Garage truck stop on the N1 highway near Kraaifontein.

By the end of the day many had been given lifts by truckers going as far as Johannesburg.

A Zimbabwean woman, who only gave her name as Ernestine, said she would never return to South Africa though she had been able to work in the country and send money home for the past three years. She lived in a shack in Harare, Khayelitsha, and got seasonal work on farms.

Ernestine said: "People keep saying they are going to beat us after the World Cup. It is not safe for me to go home on a truck but there is no way I can stay here."

Another Zimbabwean, Derek, said he had to leave his wife and child in Khayelitsha because he had no money to transport them back home.

"Every day on the trains they threaten that they will kill me at any time. I'm hoping to get money at home by next week and buy my wife and baby a bus ticket," Derek said. "We thought we were all Africans, but they treated us like animals."

Engen Garage employees in Kraaifontein said there were still a number of foreigners at the filling station looking for lifts.

Cape Town's disaster management centre said it was playing no role in dealing with the exodus.

Spokesperson Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said civil society groups had been told that if lives were in danger they should report it to the police or provincial disaster management centre.

"Nothing has to date been reported to us," Solomons-Johannes said.

Braam Hanekom, spokesperson for refugee rights organisation Passop, said it was "really, really sad" that foreigners could feel so unprotected, and that they were prepared to displace themselves on the basis of rumours.

But it also had to be understood that rumours could create a very hostile environment for foreigners, he said.

Police in Western Cape had been very quick to respond, he said, and had re-established the safety forum set up after the outbreak of xenophobic violence in 2008.

"They've given us a list of every police station commander we can contact 24 hours a day if there's anything of a xenophobic nature," he said.

Hanekom said Passop recognised the efforts being made by politicians at a national and provincial level.