Africa Service – Vatican City
In a statement released Monday by the government news service, SAnews.gov.za, the South African government did not immediately make clear what arrangements were in place for areas such as Pretoria, which have also witnessed xenophobic violence.
The violence in Katlehong
The City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality that forms the local government of the East Rand region of Gauteng, in South Africa, witnessed some of the worst violence against foreign nationals.
A few days ago, as the xenophobic violence degenerated, residents of Katlehong were said to have blocked roads leading into the township to prevent police access. Katlehong is a township 35 km east of Johannesburg and south of Germiston. It is situated between two other townships of Thokoza and Vosloorus.
SAnews.gov.za says that there are currently about 800 displaced foreign nationals: 588 adults and 227 children from the area.
Foreign nationals afraid even under police protection
The two sites in Katlehong being used as relief centres are at DH Williams and Tsholo Hall. These centres have foreign nationals displaced from the Mandela Informal Settlement and Nhlapo Section in Katlehong, among other areas.
Nevertheless, foreign nationals at the centres told the media they were living in fear of attacks in spite of the presence of police. Most have been traumatised by their experience with marauding gangs. The residents in the centres were mostly from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ghana, Lesotho and Malawi.
NGOs and Churches working with local government
Various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are working with the City of Ekurhuleni to provide for the needs of the displaced persons but they have also appealed to well-wishers for assistance.
South Africa says that relevant government departments would assist foreign nationals who wish to be repatriated to their countries of origin.
Jesuit Institute SA: Populist remarks cause violence
In the meantime, the Jesuit Institute South Africa has urged the country’s politicians to take responsibility for the ongoing chaos. The Jesuit Institute is concerned that some leaders have contributed to the violence by their irresponsible and populist remarks made for political expediency.
“Words have power and the ability to influence. Xenophobic rhetoric leads to xenophobic behavior,” said the Jesuit Institute.
The Institute continues: “Statements by leaders condemning the violence we have witnessed are not good enough anymore. Leaders who have made irresponsible remarks must publicly apologise to everyone living in South Africa. To those leaders we say: Have the courage to take responsibility for your own careless words and hold yourselves accountable!”