Foreign nationals affected by last week’s xenophobic violence in the Durban CBD on Monday said they were planning to approach Police Minister Bheki Cele to call for the restoration of safe working space.
Several shops owned by foreign nationals and South Africans – who have relations with foreign nationals – have been closed since last week after they were ransacked and forced to shut down.
Witnesses claimed that some members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) led the attacks in partnership with homeless people who use drugs.
A faction of the MKMVA in KZN had previously claimed that foreign nationals stole jobs and were responsible for the country’s drug use problem.
Executive Director of the African solidarity network, Byamungu Dunia, said Minister Cele should ensure law enforcement in the Durban CBD.
“People have been trading legally in the free market workshop – they’ve been paying leases to the government – and they’ve been chased away and there’s no police presence. We want the minister to come on board and enforce the law because there are laws in this country and the police, their role is law enforcement.”
Dunia said attacks against foreign nationals were based on ignorance.
“When we came here, no one was doing what we were doing. We created those jobs – we didn’t take someone else’s job. Taking someone’s job is when you find someone doing something and then you take that job away from them. Most of our people who are trading in South Africa hire South Africans. We even teach them how to do business. We have south African entrepreneurs now because we train them. We are all African. We are all black. We need to work together to build the economy of this country.”
Dunia said they were hoping for the government’s urgent intervention as many foreign families were struggling to meet their basic needs after being forced to shut down their businesses.
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