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Anti-xenophobia Update

Introduction

This is to update all the stakeholders and the role-players about the recent spate of xenophobic related attacks and situation in shelters in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and off late the Eastern Cape.

Howick Shelter

About twelve (12) adult refugees remain in this shelter after some have voluntarily left for the reintegration. The situation remains tense between these refugees and their host Sharon. It should be remembered that the misunderstandings erupted between the two after series of allegations from each side. Both KZNCC and the police intervened but no solution was found. Sharon has a restraining order (they are barred from coming near Sharon) against the refugees. She’s also working on the plan to evict all the refugees from the farm claiming that the relationship is unrepairable.

KZNCC had some discussions with United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) as well as Refugee Social Services (RSS) about the situation in Howick and what could be done. The two agents are of the view that they have done everything possible to persuade the refugees to consider reintegrated back to communities where they were or to new communities. They feel that there’s nothing more that they can do. They said the refugees know where to find them if they have changed their minds. Their conclusion is that in case refugees turn violent and break the law, the law should take its course. KZNCC will continue to engage relevant stakeholders and authorities to find the long-term solution.

Cato-Ridge Shelter

It is reported that the refugees in Cato Ridge are now divided into two camps following some disagreements. The source of the disagreement is yet to be confirmed however the rumour has it that one group would like to move out of the shelter whilst the other still would like to stay. The farm owner has reacted by moving the one group to the top.

KZNCC was approached by the farm owner checking if an alternative accommodation could be found for the group willing to move. The KZNCC’s position is that a plan could be drawn if the group wants to be integrated to communities but not when they want to create another shelter. The farm owner is speaking with the group about this.

Grahamstown (Eastern Cape)

We received a report that there were xenophobic attacks which took place in a certain township of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. We read from the report that these attacks emanate from the recent crime incidents that took place in Grahamstown, where people’s body parts were removed.

The report continue to say that the local NGO Masifunde Education and Development Project Trust sensitized the police of the possibilities of these xenophobic attacks and asked them to convene meetings in the township and inform the communities that this crime was not committed by our brothers and sisters who are from other parts of the continent. They say the police refused to do so.

It is reported that some community member had to stand between the bricks and the shops that were being attacked whilst our brothers were inside the shops. The said NGO condemned the police for not taking an action during and after these incidents.

For more information on this particular story please contact: Nomonde Waka Kalipa Masifunde Education and Development Project Trust at 078 7355 269

Georgedale (Hammersdale)

We also received another report that xenophobic attacks broke in the Georgedale (area within Hammersdale near Mpumalanga Township) after a young man (aged 22) was stabbed to death. It is alleged that this matriculant of Phezulu High School was killed by a foreign national who resides in the area after alleging that the deceased had robbed him.

It is reported that some local community members looted the shops of the foreign nationals in the incident interpreted and ‘revenge’.

KZNCC spoke to the Ward Councillor (Mr. Sosibo) in an attempt to get more clarity on the ground. However the Councillor did not know anything except what he read on the newspaper. KZNCC also spoke to the local Police (Merger Ndlovu) who confirmed the incident but denied that there was looting which took place.

KZNCC will visit the area before the end of the day to find out facts about the situation. We undertake to give more information in our next update.

In the meantime we are requesting everybody to be calm and those with power and authority to work with one another in finding solutions. We specifically calling our faith-based organisations, Church Leaders and the ecumenical movement as a whole to support us in this fight against this unnecessary scourge through prayers and their presence where possible.

For more information please contact the KZNCC Offices in Pietermaritzburg through Musa Zakwe 033 345 4819 / 083 983 3524.

Kzncc Update on xenophobia: 3 november 2015