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Terrified to return to hell

Published Apr 23, 2015

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Johannesburg - As rain began to fall over the Primrose temporary camp on Wednesday morning, a safe haven for those affected by xenophobia, Zimbabwean mother Editor Dongo began to pack the two or three items she managed to grab while running from her home in the Makausi squatter camp a week ago.

As she readied herself to leave the camp on Wednesday morning, Dongo picked up her 3-year-old daughter who is physically disabled.

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“She needs to be fed every two hours. I couldn’t do that while I was here. There’s food, but only two or three times a day. This is what I have,” she said, pointing to a multi-coloured kikoi and a blue jersey. “It’s all I managed to grab.”

Tears welled in Dongo’s eyes as she recalled the night she ran away from her shack.

“There was a lot of banging and shouting. It was past midnight. These men came in and started shouting: ‘Out, out, out, get out.’ I took my child and the things I could reach and ran. There was chaos, fires burning, the men screaming they will kill us. We ran for our lives. I don’t want to go back there.”

Dongo is one of more than 100 displaced foreigners who fled their homes when the xenophobic attacks flared up in Joburg last week. Seven people were killed in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, which saw the first of such attacks.

These were attributed to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s speech in which he reportedly said that foreigners should leave South Africa.

After a backlash, he called an imbizo in Durban on Sunday at which he condemned the attacks, saying he was quoted out of context and that he never ordered them.

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Dongo told The Star that the conditions at the camp had been bad for her daughter’s health.

Although the displaced foreigners have been told it’s safe to return to their homes, many do not want to board the buses which have been hired to drive them back to Makause.

“I’m not happy to return,” said Christopher, a Mozambican man who only gave his first name.

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“It’s not going to stop.”

A Malawian man said, as he washed his clothes, that he was afraid to go back. “I want to go back to Malawi, at least I know there I’ll be safe. If I go back to the squatter camp who knows what will happen.”

Naomi, mother to an 18-month-old boy, said she was praying that buses would come and take her back to Zimbabwe.

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In a effort to quell the violence, thousands of people are expected to join an anti-xenophobia march in the city on Wednesday afternoon.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Joburg mayor Parks Tau are expected to join the march, which starts in Hillbrow and ends in Newtown.

Joburg metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the march would not result in any road closures.

Meanwhile, a SANDF uniform was one of the items recovered from a resident of the KwaMadala hostel in Alexandra during a late-night surprise raid.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Noxolo Kweza told The Star on Wednesday morning that the man found with the uniform had since been arrested, together with another hostel dweller who was found dealing in liquor without a licence.

She said the surprise raid was conducted between 10pm last night and about 4am.

Kweza said the purpose of the raid was to confiscate illegal firearms and drugs.

About 200 soldiers and officers arrived at the hostel later to confiscate illegal goods.

Heavily armed officers raided every room and arrested 11 residents found with bags of dagga and an assortment of suspected stolen property.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Kay Makhubela could not say exactly what was confiscated at the time. “The property appears to have been stolen from supermarkets and hardware shops,” he said at the time.

 

Unlike the Jeppestown raid, residents were not forced to lie in the corridors while their rooms were searched.

This pointed towards suspicion that the men might have been expecting the raid or they might have been tipped off.

However, the government announced earlier this week that police and the army were to target hostels, as they were regarded as xenophobic hotspots.

 

Various government leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, NGOs and private companies have called for an end to xenophobic violence, which has caused thousands of foreigners to be displaced or to flee

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The Star

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