Pretoria West on edge after attacks on foreigners
JOHANNESBURG – A Pretoria community is on edge after experiencing two xenophobic attacks in less than a week.
On Saturday, homes belonging to Nigerian nationals were set alight in Pretoria West, less than 3km from Atteridgeville.
Just three days later, shops belonging to foreigners, mainly Somalis and Pakistanis, were ransacked allegedly by community members. Three people have since been arrested.
Now a group calling itself the Mamelodi Concerned Residents is organising a march to the Home Affairs headquarters in Pretoria on Friday to highlight grievances against immigrants in their community.
As mop-up operations got under way in the area, one witness said it was customers who turned into looters.
“I saw about 40 people and I heard noise and heard them breaking in. I just stood far [away] to see. Because I live here I didn’t want to get involved. I was scared that they would turn against me so I went back to bed and work up to this,” said Tebohgo Mpondo.
At the weekend, Nigerians were the targets of residents’ anger.
Two houses were set alight, with residents claiming they were being used for drug trafficking and prostitution.
A Nigerian union in the country has condemned what it described as misperceptions about its members.
A group representing Nigerians in South Africa has condemned what it’ ha described as misperceptions about its members.
“Nigerian can’t be defined by activities of few individuals that are engaged in crime, we feel their pain we are part of society we are part of community…we are afraid that the xenophobic attacks will flare up again like in 2008 and 2015, we hoping it doesn’t happen,” said Nigerian Union of SA spokesman Ike Anyene.
The union estimates there are more than 800,000 Nigerian nationals living in South Africa.
Police in Atteridgeville remain on standby and have warned community members not to take the law into their own hands.