‘Peace has been restored’

2015-04-20 00:00

IT was business as usual for many ­foreign-owned shops in Pietermaritzburg as organisations held a series of emergency meetings this weekend.

The CBD was running normally once again, with all foreign-owned shops opening their doors for trading after the wave of xenophobic attacks saw the looting of more than 50 shops last week.

Private and policing structures held emergency community meetings on ­Saturday to address the issues facing the affected communities, and to outline ­future measures that should be taken if the attacks start up again.

One shop owner, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said he opened his shop in town yesterday but is still wary of future attacks.

Born in Malawi, the shop owner said he came to South Africa and worked as a tiler before he joined together with friends to open a little grocery store in the upper CBD.

“We hope the attacks have come to an end but we are still fearful. Many of our brothers have gone back home, but we opened our shop [yesterday] because we have to make money to survive,” he said.

The Mountain Rise police station held an emergency Community Policing ­Forum (CPF) meeting on Saturday which addressed the community on the attacks that took place last week.

Police, at the meeting, asked members of the community not to contribute to the hype surrounding the attacks by spreading false images and information on social media and community platforms.

At the Raisethorpe Secondary School, the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem) held a meeting with over 50 community leaders and stakeholders to address their ­concerns and develop a disaster management strategy should xenophobic ­violence stir again.

The KZN government and eThekwini Metro also announced yesterday that no incidents of violence directed at foreign nationals occurred at the weekend.

Foreign nationals were said to have voluntarily reported at temporary ­shelters across the city requesting help from the Department of Home Affairs to return to their home countries.

“It is pleasing to note that calm and peace has been restored in most previously affected communities to the extent that those who want to go back home had time to pack their belongings and make their way to shelters,” a statement by the municipality said.

It is believed that awareness campaigns, police visibility and the peace march which took place in Durban last week, contributed to the change.

Chairperson of the joint KZN and eThekwini Metro task team, MEC Willies Mchunu, said yesterday the province was stable and there were no reports of violence.

Meanwhile, King Goodwill Zwelithini is set to host an imbizo with the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Department at 10 am today at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

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