Xeno­pho­bic at­tacks strike Pre­to­ria West

CityPress - - News - ELAINE SWANEPOEL news@city­press.co.za

Vi­o­lence broke out in Pre­to­ria West yes­ter­day when res­i­dents looted and set the homes of for­eign­ers on fire.

At least three houses were set alight be­tween 8am and 12pm, and var­i­ous res­i­dences were looted.

The prop­er­ties in­volved are mostly owned by or oc­cu­pied by for­eign­ers, and res­i­dents be­lieve that they are used to fa­cil­i­tate pros­ti­tu­tion and to trade drugs.

Last week, at least 10 houses sus­pected to be­long to for­eign drug lords and brothel own­ers were set alight in Roset­tenville, south of Jo­han­nes­burg.

“We are tired of the crime in our area. These Nige­ri­ans must take their drugs back to La­gos,” said Charles Ngakula of Pre­to­ria West.

On Satur­day af­ter­noon, the po­lice fired rub­ber bul­lets at a group of about 300 South Africans. At least seven po­lice ve­hi­cles were used to block off WF Nkomo Street and a po­lice he­li­copter was also in­volved in the op­er­a­tion.

Later in the af­ter­noon, re­porters from City Press’ sis­ter pa­per Rap­port wit­nessed the same group of peo­ple storm the house of a Zim­bab­wean refugee and be­gin to plun­der it, while a po­lice ve­hi­cle passed by with­out tak­ing any ac­tion.

Se­gun Oluwa, an asy­lum seeker from Nigeria and a res­i­dent of a house in Court Street in Pre­to­ria West, said: “At 8am, peo­ple stormed into our house and shouted: ‘All for­eign­ers must leave!’”

The men looted the house and set it on fire.

Michael Olakunle, an­other Nige­rian im­mi­grant and a res­i­dent in the same house, said: “We didn’t do any­thing wrong. We don’t de­serve what is hap­pen­ing to us. South Africans must watch out. There are also South Africans in Nigeria and we will do the same to them there.”

Oluwa and his house­mates said the po­lice wit­nessed what was hap­pen­ing, but didn’t do any­thing about it.

Inside some of the homes that were looted, dirty mat­tresses cov­ered the floors and pack­ets of con­doms were stuffed in draw­ers.

Two half-naked women sat out­side an­other home with the word ‘Doll­house’ painted on the front wall.

“There are im­mi­grants who own broth­els and sell drugs, but not all for­eign­ers are bad,” said Mem­ory Vilakazi. She is a South African, but was also chased out of her home.

“South Africans wanted to plun­der it [my home] be­cause it be­longs to a Con­golese na­tional. They don’t like it when for­eign­ers own prop­erty.”

Cap­tain Au­gusti­nah Selepe, a po­lice spokesper­son, said two com­plaints of ar­son and one com­plaint of pub­lic vi­o­lence had been lodged with the po­lice. At the time of go­ing to press, no ar­rests had been made.

PHOTO: EL­IZ­A­BETH SEJAKE

IN­VES­TI­GA­TION Po­lice in­spect the dam­age caused af­ter lo­cals looted and burnt prop­er­ties be­long­ing to for­eign­ers in Pre­to­ria West

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