Johannesburg - The city of Joburg has launched a helpline for people affected by xenophobic attacks, so that they can access immediate help from a joint-operation centre.
“Vodacom has partnered with the city to develop a response which would give them access to information on xenophobic attacks,” Joburg executive mayor Parks Tau said.
By dialling *134*422#, people in distress can get hold of the city’s operations centre to report any attacks, looting or violence and get an immediate response.
It will also enable those affected by the violence to make calls to their families to the value of R10.
Tau said the city was working with interested parties - from artists to religious leaders, political parties and organisations that worked with foreigners - to get them all to work together to combat the violence.
Together, they would visit xenophobic hotspots to inform people of the options available to them, to ascertain the status of foreigners and to help in whichever way they can.
As most xenophobic attacks had targeted shopowners, part of the city’s programme was to educate the traders.
“This is how you register your company, this is how you trade, these are the by-laws you need to comply with so that everybody plays by the same rules,” the mayor pointed out.
Tau added that the laws had to be implemented uniformly and fairly to reduce frustration.
The city will hold a number of events this week to involve the public in the campaign. It will culminate in a concert on Saturday at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, and a walk on Sunday at Constitution Hill.
Various civic organisations have also organised a peace march at 1pm on Thursday, at the Pieter Roos Park in Hillbrow.