Alleged xenophobic clashes lead to violence and unrest

Residents and families who camped outside the Isipingo SAPS.

Congolese residents, living in Isipingo, have been left with no choice but to camp outside the Isipingo SAPS building, in a bid to ensure their safety, following recent alleged xenophobic attacks on them and their businesses.

It is alleged that the act is being carried out by a gang of young men. Yesterday, hundreds of Congolese residents were allegedly driven out of their businesses by the mob, who were armed with weapons, stones and knobkerries.

The attacks come after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini gave a speech at a moral regeneration event in Pongola, a few weeks ago. In his address, he apparently said that foreigners should return to their home countries because they are changing the nature of South African society with their goods and enjoying the wealth that should be enjoyed by the locals.

The foreign nationals, who were attacked, believe that the King’s statement has given their attackers enough incentive to invade their lives, with the intent to harm. Speaking to a resident, Daniel Dunia (38), he said, “It was around 10am when this massive group of men marched towards the foreigners with anger in their eyes, chanting, ‘The King said Kwera, Kwera must go!.’ They broke into the container used as salons, looted the businesses, destroyed foreigners vehicles’ and also beat up anyone who got in their way.”

Husband and wife, Coco Bishogo and Ksai Ruvenga have been living in Isipingo for six years and told journalists that this is the second xenophobic attack that they have experienced. “I own a salon. This is how I am able to support my family. They have taken everything away from me,” cried Bishogo. His wife said that the attackers kept shouting, ‘If you stay, we will kill you’.

It is believed that several victims were injured following the attack. “We are scared to walk on the streets now. Our lives are in danger and our children cannot even go to school,” added Bishogo.

Sindayi Abdallah from Burundi said that after 10 years of living in South Africa, he has had enough of the hatred. Meanwhile, Denzil Reddy, CPF chairman and Ward 90 committee member said that he was called to the station last night, where he saw more than 100 foreigners camping outside the police station. “Our main objective is to now protect these residents. I aim to help them in any way possible,” he said.

Communications officer for Isipingo SAPS, Cpt Ragavan said that he could not confirm if the attacks were xenophobic, however, he could confirm that police are investigating. “We are investigating cases of theft, assault, assault with GBH, assault to property. The cases are being investigated independently,” he said. Cpt Ragavan also said that a meeting will be held with the residents and stakeholders.

A woman was injured during the attack. She now has to walk with the aid of crutches.

A woman was injured during the attack. She now has to walk with the aid of crutches.

“Stakeholders who will attend the meeting include Cluster Commander, Brigadier Zondi, Station Commissioner, Colonel Shelembe, Community Safety and Liaison Department representative, Mr Mbuso and other departments including the Department of Labour, Housing and Home Affairs as well as Metro Council, who will assist. We are trying to minimise damage to property and we want this process to be done quick and swiftly. Two foreigners have been arrested for possession of dangerous weapons,” he added.

KZN’s Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Mmamonnye Ngobeni condemned the attack directed towards the foreign nationals. “We urge members of the community to bring peace in their areas and not fight among themselves. We will not tolerate such attacks. Our police officers will continue to monitor the situation and will investigate those cases already opened. Cases of public violence were also opened after the community members barricaded the roads around Isipingo and Umlazi area,” she said.


Lauren Beukes

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