By Stanley Karombo
Foreign nationals living in South Africa are fearing for their lives amid an upsurge of xenophobic attacks.
A group of 30 immigrants arrived at the Primrose police station on Thursday to escape from possible attacks, according to the South Africa police service spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.
Dlamini told Xinhua in a telephone interview that some foreign nationals “did not open their shops today and a group of others came to sleep at the police station saying they’re afraid of their lives.”
Some of the shops in the area were closed on Thursday and shop owners had closed early on Wednesday for their own safety.
Although the Johannesburg CBD was relatively calm today, the atmosphere was still tense. Meanwhile, xenophobic attacks erupted in Benoni, east of Johannesburg on Thursday.
In Actonville, just outside the CBD, police said they had to fire rubber bullets to quell a crowd pelting stones and bottles at passers-by.
Locals are accusing immigrants of “stealing their jobs” and are demanding that they leave the country.
Residents in the area showed a text message alert on WhatsApp, which reads: “Please be very vigilant and alert especially Actonville area near hostel and Dunswart Bridge. Small groups gathering with weapons in their hands. Not sure of their intentions. But as previous msgs was sent out, a possible situation is arising.”
On Wednesday, a group of people gathered in the Jeppestown section of Jules street, near the Wolhuter Hostel, and threw stones at passing cars.
A woman, who only wanted to be identified as Thembi, said she was not happy that she was caught in a cross fire, because she used that route to go to her place of residence.
In Dobsonville, west of Johannesburg, two Somalis were attacked and robbed in their shop.
Meanwhile, African Solidarity Network has demanded that a long- term programs should be put in place to prevent xenophobic attacks, rather than having to deal with attacks when they occur.
Diaku Dianzenza, the chairperson of the network, said the South Africa government should have learnt from the xenophobic attacks in 2008 to set up programmes to help and integrate immigrants.
“That is the way we can find a solution in a durable way – programs that go on a daily basis, on a weekly basis or in a monthly basis, on a yearly basis for this violence to be alleviated. Because if we say that we only put programs where there’s violence then when the violence goes off, then it will be repeating it every time. So the best way is to put in place programs that will address this on a long-term basis,” he said in a statement.
Zimbabwe’s embassy in South Africa reportedly said it was investigating claims that two of the five people killed during the attacks are Zimbabwean, while 800 other Zimbabwean have been displaced.
It’s estimated that about 3 million Zimbabweans live in South Africa, though South Africa has documented at least 250,000. Zimbabweans are allowed by special permits to live and stay in the country. Enditem