Monday, July 12, 2010

'They should all leave and f*** off'

12 July 2010, 12:38

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By Shain Germaner

A meeting that was meant to unite residents of the Ramaphosa informal settlement turned ugly last night when locals voiced their hatred of foreigners.

"Why should I suffer in my own country? They should all leave and f*** off," a man screamed into the microphone.

The thousand-strong audience cheered in response.

But this was just one of dozens of hateful comments, many suggesting that unless the government removes the foreigners, violence could erupt.

The meeting, led by the International Community Unifiers (ICU), community leaders and local government, was interrupted constantly by residents' stories of their terrible encounters with foreigners.

A member of the audience described his experience when he was robbed at gunpoint.

It was when ICU president Dennis Mpangane took the stage to speak to the crowd that the audience turned ugly.

He began by mentioning that he was not originally from South Africa, to which the audience responded with hundreds of shouts of "hamba" and "Go home".

Mpangane, unable to be heard over the screams of the crowd, then chose not to speak for the rest of the meeting.

A local priest, Reverend Brian Lehoko, and a police superintendent, known only as Mathebula, managed to calm the audience after the interruption.

Mathebula called on the residents to report any violent crimes, especially xenophobic attacks, to the police as soon as possible.

"The police will be here day and night," he added.

The meeting also addressed service delivery issues that resulted in a protest earlier this year, and it was during these complaints that residents began to speak against xenophobia.

"We had two agendas today: service delivery and xenophobia," announced a resident, "but service delivery projects will be put on hold if (xenophobic violence) happens."

The community was again promised by ward councillor Craig Bennetts and representatives from the Department of Housing that plans to tackle the road, sewerage and electricity issues were "on the move".

After the meeting, when the crowd dispersed, Mpangane said: "The meeting went as well as it could have. The community were angry about service delivery and I couldn't speak, but they do understand the (xenophobia) situation."

Ramaphosa residents were one of the centres of violence two years ago.

Somali shopkeeper Abdi Ismael has lived in Ramaphosa for four years, and was greatly affected by the xenophobic violence in 2008.

"I had three shops," he said, "but I had to leave (Ramaphosa) when the attacks started. When I returned (several months later), they had all been looted and vandalised."

Ismael has been threatened - again. "Come the end of the World Cup, you'll be leaving," warned a client of his.

"Others have told me 'this shop will be ours'," said Ismael.

"Of course I'm worried, but the community will try its best to be on top of the situation. I'm just hoping the words won't escalate into violence."

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on July 12, 2010\\The Star

Comments by Sonny

Is Xenophobia real?

Who is behind this barbaric behaviour?

Is is a "Third Force" within the ANC?

Why was Zuma in consultation with malema recently?

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