Durban - One man has been killed and another is fighting for his life in hospital after violent clashes in Albert Park, Durban, yesterday.
Police were also attacked, and a panel-beating business and a tuck shop owned by a Burundian man and his South African wife were damaged and burnt
.Police had earlier thought the violent clashes that began on Wednesday night and continued yesterday morning were between Tanzanian and Nigerian nationals.
“Late on Thursday afternoon, 111 people were rounded up by police and taken in for questioning,” police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said.
He said 28 had been identified as illegal immigrants as they did not have valid passports or visas. A further 32 were identified as South Africans.
Some Albert Park residents claimed the violence started after a gang of Tanzanian men, known as the Bahari, attacked their countrymen after they refused the gang’s extortion demands of R10 000.
“For the past few weeks the Bahari have been going to all the Tanzanians along St Georges Street and telling them they need to put their money together and pay them R10 000 every Thursday,” said Osman Jumane, who rents rooms to Tanzanians and owns the panel beating shop that was attacked.
“They came around (on Wednesday) to remind people about the money they needed to give them and people refused and that is when all the fighting started,” he said.
The Bahari, numbering about 200, are believed to have arrived in the country as stow-aways and live in an open piece of land along the M4 South near Albert Park.
Residents accuse them of robbing people and say they spend their day smoking whoonga and drinking.
Jumane said his panel beating business was attacked because he rented rooms to Tanzanians. The gang broke down the gate to his shop and smashed the windows of a car he was repairing. His wife Sibusisiwe’s tuck shop was razed.
Outside, the dried-up blood of a man known as “China”, who was stabbed, was a grim reminder of the violence. Rubbish from overturned bins was strewn across the streets.
Another man, known as Chidi, was taken to Addington Hospital in a serious condition.
“The police are fully aware of these Bahari.
“We have been complaining about them for months, but nothing has happened,” said Jumane.
“They have no jobs, they smoke drugs and drink all day and now they are targeting working people to get money.”
Abdallah Maghembe, a Tanzanian national who has lived in Albert Park for eight years, said the Bahari had got out of hand.
“Before they would rob people on the streets, smash cars and steal out of them. Now they are going around demanding that other Tanzanians give them money,” he said.
“We cannot just give away our hard- earned money. The police need to do something about them.”
There was a heavy police presence in the area last night with squad cars patrolling the streets and a police riot control vehicle stationed on the pavement.
“We are afraid for our safety,” Jumane said. “What happens when the police go? The Bahari will come back.”
But police have warned that swift action would be taken against anyone found on the wrong side of the law.
A police source claimed a Tanzanian national had been killed a few days ago and this was a revenge attack.
Mdunge said: “Police were called in early yesterday morning to defuse the situation.
“But the warring factions turned on police. Vehicles were stoned and several people were injured in the clash.”
The source said locals were living in fear for their lives and many had remained locked in their flats.
He said police reinforcements were sent when those involved in the clashes refused to disperse.
“When more police vehicles started arriving, the crowd began dispersing,” he said. “Four people who were injured were taken to hospital.”
At Addington Hospital, many of the injured had difficulty communicating as they could not speak English. They had suffered serious wounds to their heads and bodies.
One of the injured claimed he was driving past Albert Park when a mob attacked and stoned his car. He was pulled out of the vehicle and brutally assaulted, the source said, and his car was stolen.
Mdunge said police would continue to patrol the area and would, along with Home Affairs officials, conduct more checks for illegal immigrants.
He said the illegal immigrants would be charged and would face deportation.
“It is unclear how they came into the country illegally.” - Daily News