Monday, May 9, 2011

Foreigners Under Threat

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May 8, 2011

This week marks three years since xenophobia in Gauteng left 62 people dead and 30000 displaced.  

RAMAPHOSA REVISITED: Images on the left taken during the xenophobic attacks in the township of Ramaphosa, on the East Rand, in 2008; on the right, pictures shot this year 

Residents laugh as foreigner burns in his own blankets

As we made our way through the Ramaphosa squatter camp in Reiger Park on Gauteng’s East Rand, a woman’s words made us freeze in horror. “They are burning people down there,” she said.

I ran to the nearest police officer and said: “The locals say they’re burning a person at the other intersection.”

Officers leapt into a Casspir and a Nyala, and drove through the debris and barricades in the road.

I ran after them, with other photographers following.

Two hundred metres down the road we found the first man. He had been severely beaten and was semi- conscious. Police thought he was dead, but later realised he wasn’t.

About 25m from him a man was on his knees. There was a mattress covering him, and it was on fire.

He, too, was alight.

Police threw the mattress off him and kicked sand onto him to put out the flames. Another officer ran over with a fire extinguisher, pointed it at him and extinguished the flames. Other officers radioed for medical help.

The man was alive, but barely. He groaned, but he could not speak.

It was all over in 20 seconds.

There was a concrete pillar lying near him, splattered with blood. We can only imagine what was done to him before he was set alight.

The police stayed with him until the paramedics arrived, doing what they could But residents gathered at the scene were laughing.

Kim Ludbrook, a photographer, admonished them, and we reminded them this was human being and that what had happened was barbaric.
Still they laughed.

The burn victim, whose name has not been released, died last night in hospital. 

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Amukelani Chauke and Caleb Melby went back to two hot spots 

Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave became the personification of xenophobic attacks when images of him being burned alive were published around the world. Despite the resulting outrage, those responsible for his death were never brought to book. 

In July last year, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane called on police to reopen the investigation into the murder of the 35-year-old Mozambican father of four. 

On Friday, her office referred queries about the investigation to the office of community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko. 

When called for comment, provincial safety spokesman Dumisani Ngema said they were waiting for reports from the police on progress in the investigation. 

In the Ramaphosa shack settlement, which was once Nhamuave's home, the police have intensified patrols after a new standoff between local and foreign shop owners forced Somalians and Pakistanis to stop trading. 

The Times has seen a copy of a letter, handed to foreign shop owners late last month by a group calling itself the Greater Gauteng Business Forum, which reads: "You are hereby granted a period of seven days to pack all your things and leave the area . 

"Failing to abide by this humble request will result in drastic measures being taken against you.
"It's not xenophobia, we need no war, no negotiations - the same way you came in, will and must be the same on your way out." 

Reiger Park police spokesman Toni Perifort confirmed that police escorted a group of foreign businessman from the area last week after residents threatened them. 

"The community has requested that the foreigners leave the area. It's business related, not xenophobia related," Perifort said on Friday. 

"On Monday evening, they [the community] started to loot one of the shops. 

"We have confiscated those groceries and are holding onto them while we investigate everything - their licences, where they are getting the goods from." 

Perifort said that, though the community's demands were not xenophobia related, the police were concerned that they could fuel fresh attacks." 

"They want them out as traders. They do not mind if they stay, they just cannot do business. [On Thursday] there was a community meeting that lasted all day to deal with these issues," she said. 

"The police offer a humble request to the community not to take the law into their own hands." 

Three years ago, Ramaphosa's main road was littered with debris from burning shacks.
Mothers fled carrying their children. Police fired rubber bullets at looters, using a nearby bank of post office boxes as a shield. 

In 2008, many locals complained that foreigners were taking their jobs and houses, but today it appears to be all about business. 

Hawkers trading a few metres from where Nhamuave burned to death said they did not want foreigners to trade in the area because their prices were too low. 

"We don't want them here," said Reiger Park resident Allister Swanepoel. "Their businesses are too cheap. 

"Had they not left, the community would have hurt them. Back then it was jobs. Now it is business." 

A Zimbabwean hawker, who would not reveal his name for fear of victimisation, said it was unfair to remove Somalian and Pakistani shop owners and that the root of the problem was that the locals hated competition. 

"These Pakistani shops are now locked up because of this. They employed locals and contributed to fighting unemployment." 

Perifort said the police and tax inspectors were investigating the origins of the goods confiscated from the evicted shop owners. They were also probing allegations of tax dodging. 

"Some have said that we have taken sides. This is not true. If anyone breaks the law, they will be arrested," she said 



  1. Zionist Freemason Sodomite magic at it's best. There's a power behind this evil mess.

  2. Overpopulation, gross inequality and the ANC.

  3. This is morally wrong and disgusting...!