Loveness James, 22, with her friend Marriam Mbambichi, 25. Both are from Malawi, and along with other foreigners camped at the Sydenham police station after they were forced to flee Burnwood informal settlement due to xenophobic violence on Tuesday. Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - The recent attacks on foreigners in Durban are believed to be linked to a truck drivers’ protest that started on Sunday.

Early on Tuesday, more than 150 foreigners living in an informal settlement in Clare Estate had to flee the area after they were attacked by a group of men.

The general secretary of Durban South Peace Builders, Bandile Mdlalose, on Wednesday confirmed that other attacks on foreigners had taken place in Greenwood Park and Mayville on Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, foreigners employed as truck drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles in afternoon peak-hour traffic as local drivers intensified their protest action.

A message that had been circulating on social media since the weekend had called for protest action against the employment of foreigners as truck drivers and security guards.

The message said foreigners were stealing jobs meant for South Africans.

Mdlalose said the foreigners who had fled their homes said the groups who attacked them had accused them of being “thieves” who were stealing jobs.

“They told me that the protesters said that they are taking their jobs as truck drivers, security guards, and in other industries. The people fear for their lives,” she said.

She blamed the government for not helping to monitor peace in the community after violent xenophobic attacks in 2015.

“I feel like we are moving in the same direction as we were in 2015. The KwaZulu-Natal premier and MECs have let us down by not implementing their own commission’s findings and recommendations related to the 2015 xenophobic attacks,” said Mdlalose.

Zain Soosiwala, the spokesperson for crime-fighting organisation eThekwini Secure, who responded to some of the incidents, said locals had fought with foreigners and removed them from their homes.

He said that at about 9 pm on Tuesday night there were attacks in different areas in Morningside, Umgeni Road and Alpine Road.

“There was a hive of activity with people running onto Alpine Road with their belongings. Two people were injured and treated by eThekwini Secure members at the scene,” said Soosiwala.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thulani Zwane said they were monitoring the situation.

“More foreigners went to Sydenham police station and other police stations in Mayville for help last night, but no serious incidents were reported,” said Zwane.

The Mercury