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Locals upset by foreigners in RDP homes

Pretoria - People tend to revolt against RDP houses being occupied by foreign nationals who buy them from locals, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Tuesday.

“We want to warn locals that much as government does everything to ensure people's basic needs are met, they should not willy-nilly sell them (RDP houses) so we avoid such attacks on foreign nationals,” said Mthethwa.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says an SA Institute of Race Relations study on South Africa's corrupt police is "misleading". Photo: Independent Newspapers. Credit: Independent Newspapers

He was speaking to journalists in Pretoria, shortly after his meeting with United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamante.

He highlighted the importance of all South Africans understanding that co-operation was needed to curb attacks on other nationals, including valuing what government gave to them.

Mthethwa reiterated that South Africa was not xenophobic by nature. Incidents where people were burning and looting were considered as criminal activities, nothing else.

“Foreign nationals buy these houses from locals and they in turn become both residential and business premises at the same time.... People must value what government gives them.”

On Monday, Gauteng local government MEC Humphrey Memezi announced that foreign-owned businesses in the Freedom Park informal settlement would remain closed pending the outcome of a provincial government investigation.

He said there would be a two-week investigation by a task team into issues such as “the legality of documents to operate businesses, the occupation of RDP houses and whether there was proper zoning from the municipality before the building of shops”.

Media reports last month said foreign business owners in the Freedom Park informal settlement were forced to shut their shops after being threatened by local rivals.

Memezi has met with local business owners and community members in that area.

Five people were arrested over the weekend for instigating violence against the foreign business owners.

Tensions between local and foreign businesses peaked in December after the local spaza owners accused foreign owners of putting them out of business by selling their goods at lower prices.

Mthethwa indicated that because of the country's economy, there would always be people from the region coming in.

“What's important is to be able to co-operate and be able to live together with everybody else.”

Meanwhile, Bustamante will be meeting with various NGOs and departments including home affairs, correctional services and social development to, like with Mthethwa, discuss issues relating to xenophobia.

Bustamante would not comment in-depth on the issue in the South African context, saying he would do so at a later stage.

“It is not customary that I make reference to what I have heard, until the very end of my stay.”

It was only his second day of his work in the country. - Sapa

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