Local children left fatherless

2008-05-28 00:00

A recent xenophobic attack on her husband in Gauteng has left a local woman and her two children destitute.

Lindiwe Mbele, who lives in Imbali, spoke out yesterday about the consequences of the continuing attacks against foreigners.

She is the mother of two girls, Leta (5) and Victoria (2), whose Mozambican father, Albert Langa, has just left Johannesburg for Maputo after being attacked.

“He called me two weeks ago to say that his South African friends had turned against him. He said they burned down his shack and he lost all his belongings,” said Mbele.

Now unemployed, Mbele is left with no money to support herself and her children.

“He was the pillar of our lives. He earned an income by thatching houses in the up-market suburbs of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Now I have to think about how I am going to feed my children,” said Mbele.

Leta and Victoria do not get child support grants because the Home Affairs Department has yet to issue their birth certificates.

Mbele met Langa in October 2001 when she arrived in Johannesburg in search of a better life. Langa had just arrived from Maputo, looking for a job in South Africa after the death of his mother, who was the breadwinner in his family.

Mbele and Langa lived together in a shack in the Valelisa informal settlement in Germiston.

They both made friends in the poverty-stricken area, with Langa having lots of Pedi friends he would socialise with. Mbele said the same friends suddenly turned against him a few weeks ago.

“They were very good friends. But during the xenophobic attacks his friends came to his shack one night and ordered him to leave the country.

“When he asked how they could do this to him, they said if other foreigners are kicked out it would unfair to these others if he was spared,” said Mbele.

Langa went to a nearby police station and returend to find the shack burning.

“He warned me against coming to Johannesburg, saying that girlfriends of foreigners are being raped.”

Although Mbele visited Maputo for six months, she said she is afraid to travel to Mozambique in case retribution attacks occur there.

“I wish to go and see him in Maputo, but with all the attacks foreigners suffered here, what would stop Mozambicans from doing the same to me? I want my children to be with their father.”

She said that since Langa crossed the border, they have lost contact as his phone no longer works.

“At least he said goodbye to Leta, and told me that maybe one day we will meet again,” said Mbele.

bhans@witness.co.za

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