Racial violence against immigrants soars
Horrific racial violence has immigrants seeking shelter. France? Arizona? Guess again.
Hundreds of immigrants have taken refuge in police stations and churches as the racial violence against them soars in South Africa.
Officer helps man set alight by mob in Johannesburg
Twelve people are thought to have been killed and many more injured since the attacks against Zimbabweans and other foreigners began a week ago.Some South Africans, especially those living in poor areas, accuse Zimbabweans and other newcomers of fuelling the high crime rate and taking scarce jobs.The attacks have renewed the authorities' fears that xenophobia is on the rise in a country once known as one of the most welcoming to immigrants and asylum seekers.Local radio said angry mobs had at first attacked houses owned by immigrants from neighbouring Zimbabwe, Mozambique and other countries in Alexandra township.But now these attacks have spread to other settlements and Johannesburg's city centre with properties looted and destroyed.
IT BEGAN just over a week ago at a discussion in a poor township about crime. By yesterday, it had become a black-on-black ethnic-cleansing frenzy that engulfed central Johannesburg, taking more than a dozen lives and leaving hundreds injured, thousands homeless and many raped.The assaults by poor black South Africans on poor, terrified refugees, most of them Zimbabwean, is a crisis that has been waiting to happen for months and seems likely to escalate.
Reports yesterday said the attacks had spread to Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria.
Some three million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa from the political and economic terror waged by president Robert Mugabe. They have been joined by an estimated one to two million economic migrants from Mozambique and Malawi. In a country with 40 per cent unemployment, ordinary black South Africans have accused the foreigners of stealing their jobs, houses and women. And they have been growing increasingly angry with their own head of state, President Thabo Mbeki, accusing him of being more concerned with appeasing Mr Mugabe than recognising the scale of the problem caused by the flood of Zimbabweans into South Africa.
Eight days ago, in Alexandra, a poor township in the shadow of Johannesburg's business district and the richest square mile of earth in Africa, Jacob Ntuli, 67, a community leader and former security guard, called a meeting of residents to discuss the rape of four women and a girl.
Somehow, what began as a discussion about crime ended in people seething with anger about foreigners. They decided it was time to act, and soon, with cries of "Let's go and kill foreigners", a mob armed with guns, steel bars and whips was descending on non-South African homes.