Article written

  • on 07.07.2010
  • at 02:11 PM
  • by Staff

SA: Nipping xenophobia in the bud 0

JOHANNESBURG – A series of meetings to educate residents about xenophobia in the informal settlement of Du Noon, Cape Town, will begin on 7 July and run until the final game of the FIFA World Cup on 11 July.

On 27 June units of the South African army were deployed to the township in what police described as an “anti-crime operation”, after widespread reports had been circulating that foreign nationals would be attacked on 12 July – the day after the final soccer world cup match.

Armoured personnel carriers have been patrolling the streets, but Nkosikhulule Nyembezi, an advocacy programme officer at the Black Sash, a rights watchdog, told IRIN that the military had been deployed to support the police because soccer world cup duties had put a strain on police resources, and not in response to any xenophobic attacks.

Workshops held by the Black Sash in the township in recent weeks have detected a high level of anger against foreign nationals by South Africans, but one Somali businessman told NGO workers that “this time we are ready to stay and fight”.

Du Noon, near the northern suburb of Milnerton, was the epicentre of xenophobic violence in Western Cape Province that began in May 2008, replicating attacks that had started in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra a few days earlier. By the time the nationwide violence subsided, about 60 people had been killed and more than 100,000 displaced.

Ahead of the soccer world cup there were widespread reports and speculation that millions of foreign nationals would be attacked within hours of the last whistle being blown at the soccer finals.

Du Noon residents told IRIN that although there had not been any xenophobic attacks in the township recently, the area was tense and foreign nationals had begun leaving the township.

Andile Peter, chairperson of South African National Civic Organisation in Du Noon and a member of the Community Policing Forum (CPF), told IRIN: “I cannot tell you how many [foreign nationals] have left [Du Noon], but every day trucks are coming in to pick up people’s belongings. There is fear, but no substance to it.”

He said small anti-xenophobia meetings, organized under the auspices of the CPF, would be held with different communities throughout the township, covering the whole settlement within a few days.

Peters said the CPF had decided against holding a single public meeting on xenophobia, having learnt from “the mistakes of the past”. In 2008 a public meeting called to address xenophobia acted as the catalyst for attacks against foreign nationals.

Those attending the gathering in the informal settlement became unruly and the meeting was cancelled minutes before it was scheduled to begin. Foreign nationals and their businesses were then attacked.


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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi