Zim woman’s encounter with SA lynch mob

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DURBAN – Zimbabwean Sthulisile Mpofu was at home on Saturday when a group of men knocked on her door and threatened to beat her if she did not leave immediately.

Fearing for her life, she left her home in Welbedacht, in Chatsworth, Durban, taking her two children with her. Her television, DVD player, loudspeakers, cash and other property were looted.

Speaking from a transit camp in Chatsworth yesterday, Mpofu said she was worried about what might happen to her children as xenophobic violence rages across the city.

“It’s not fair to the kids to see people abuse us. We are here to work because of difficulties at home. But now they attack us and take our things. They say we must go back home,” she said.

In the wake of the violence, President Jacob Zuma yesterday assigned Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and State Security Minister David Mahlobo to lead a team that will work with the KwaZulu-Natal police and the provincial government “to arrest the violence”.

Zuma condemned the attacks and the looting but said the government had to ensure that immigrants were in South Africa legally.

Since the first attacks in Isipingo three weeks ago, between 1500 and 2000 foreigners – mainly Malawians, Zimbabweans, Ethiopians and Mozambicans – have been forced from their homes. There have been five confirmed deaths.

Shops have been looted and destroyed.

On Friday night two Ethiopian brothers were locked in their shop, which was then petrol-bombed. One of the men died in hospital.

Police said last week that 17 people had been arrested for public violence.

They have increased the number of patrols in the affected areas, which include Isipingo, Chatsworth and Umlazi.

Police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane said yesterday that the situation was “quiet” overnight.

But there were unconfirmed reports of violence in Lamontville late yesterday afternoon.

Many of the foreigners attribute the attacks to comments by King Goodwill Zwelithini in Pongola last month.

In a recording now available online, Zwelithini can be heard saying: “We ask foreigners to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.”

His office has reacted angrily to the suggestion that the violence was sparked by his comments.

Spokesman Prince Thulani Zulu told the Sunday Times: “The people who are dying are the king’s people. It’s very sad to the king that his people are killing each other.

“People in Pongola heard what the king said and people in Pongola are not fighting. These are just thugs. The king has never said that people must be killed.”

But many of the displaced foreigners said Zwelithini’s comments were quoted by their attackers, particularly during the initial wave of violence.

Zimbabwean consul-general Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro told The Times that there had been anti-foreigner “vibes” for some time but the attacks could have been sparked by “careless” statements.

Without naming Zwelithini, Mukonoweshuro said: “There have been careless statements made, and people have taken advantage of that. Some elements have taken the law into their own hands.”

He said there was also an element of common criminality, vandalism and thuggery in the attacks. – TimesLive

1 COMMENT

  1. I was gonna understand if these guys are troubling those without papers,this is not Xenophobia its robbery

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