‘The bloodbath is coming’

2010-05-23 15:25

A chilling video documentary, ­clips of which have been

recently

broadcast overseas, features South Africans warning foreigners to leave

the

country or be killed. The broadcast comes amid rising concerns about

violent

xenophobic attacks after the World Cup.


“Did you see the war here (in 2008), madam?” asks a man in a

ramshackle tavern in an informal settlement on Johannesburg’s East Rand.

“It’s

going to be more than that. There’s going to be plenty of war.”


The video was made by independent filmmaker Andy Spitz, who has

been tracking the lives of displaced foreign nationals since the

outbreak of the

xeno­phobic attacks of 2008.


Since then, 17 Somali shopkeepers and traders in Western Cape have

been killed this year and nearly every other trader has been told that

they must

hand over their businesses and leave the country before the end of the

World

Cup. If they do not, they too will be killed.


In Cullinan, north of Pretoria, Zimbabwean workers reported

attending meetings in the local township, where they were told that “all

foreigners will be murdered in the second half of July, just after the

soccer”.

Zimbabweans have also attended similar meetings in Mamelodi, Pretoria.


At the Universal Church of the

Kingdom of God in Hillbrow,

­Johannesburg, where 80% of the congregation is Zimbabwean, pastors have

told

members to pack up and go home before the end of the World Cup.


Pakistani shopkeepers in Mpumalanga

and Gauteng have reported

similar threats and in some instances their shops have been looted and

burned

down.

The Consortium for Refugees and

Migrants in SA (Cormsa) warned last

week that the threats made against foreigners were widespread, real and

serious.

The xenophobic violence of 2008 saw

41 foreigners and 21 South

Africans being killed, while more than 100 000 people were displaced.

The houses

and shacks of foreigners were burned down, shops looted and property

destroyed

and stolen.

“I have been told there will be no

foreigners left in Alexandra,”

says Elizabeth Mokoena, the manager of an NGO that works with abused

children at

Alexandra police station.

She helped co-ordinate the flood of

refugees and humanitarian aid

in the township in 2008.

Zimbabweans who attended the

meetings in Mamelodi told their

employers of the warnings and the reports were passed on to the local

Cullinan

Ratepayers’ Association, which passed them on to the Democratic

Alliance.

Gauteng DA member John Moodey passed

the report on to the

provincial police commissioner for investigation.

Moodey feels that even if the

reports turn out to be false, they

should be taken seriously.

One Alexandra businessman who

supplies informal Zimbabwean traders

with paint told City Press: “We can never take it lightly. In 2008 there

were

reports like these and we never thought anything could happen.

“The next morning, Alex was

burning.”

Abdiwali Abdiraman, director of the

Somali Community Board in

Western Cape, says: “There is going to be a bloodbath.

We have warned the police, but nothing

happens. None of these attackers ever gets arrested.”

He says 12 Somalis were shot in

Western Cape last month just days

after they were told to leave the country. Three of them died. This week

two

Somalis were attacked and stabbed in Mfuleni, outside Cape Town.

The police seem, however, not to be

taking the threats seriously.

Ministry spokesperson Zweli Mnisi says Cormsa should have approached the

police

with its concerns. He says criminals are disguising their crimes as

xenophobic

attacks.

The police are also unaware of the

concerns of the Somali

community, Mnisi says. He urged them to bring them to the police’s

attention for

investigation.

Professor Loren Landau of the Forced

Migration Studies Programme at

Wits University is concerned that the threats are being made so openly.

“It is surprising how open people

are, discussing their plans and

animosity: where they would like foreigners to go; what they’d like them

to do.

It reveals the extent to which people believe it is an acceptable view,”

he

says.


 

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