Voices on the PMB streets

2008-05-19 00:00

"My heart goes out to all foreigners who are brutalised and having their belongings looted. They are my sisters and brothers, and you [foreigners] are in this country to make a living because you are also human beings."

These were the words of South African Athmanand Singh, who spoke to The Witness in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

All except one of those The Witness spoke to condemned the current attacks on foreigners in South Africa.

At the same time, foreigners expressed their fears that what is happening in Johannesburg might soon spread all around the country. They said South Africans are quick to forget that other African countries accommodated South African politicians during the struggle against apartheid.

"We moved from Congo [DRC] because of the war in our country. If the war ends, we won’t waste time going home to live with our families and friends," said Julius Kaberege.

Kaberege said he and his fellow Congolese have heard South Africans saying that what is happening in Gauteng should happen in the city.

"Three days ago people were talking next to my tent. We are waiting for something to happen to us … If they have accused foreigners of crime in this country, they must not include all of us," said Kaberege.

Anthony Marandga, also from the DRC, said that since the beginning of the violence, he no longer feels safe here. "I have always felt hostility, but what is happening there took me by surprise. I now feel that anything could happen to us," said Marandga.

Another Congolese, Gift Ndawabo, said the government should at least provide Congolese citizens with refugee camps.

"The SA government and the UN must protect us. I would prefer to go home rather than face death in this country," said Ndawabo.

Local resident Jabulani Mchunu said: "Foreigners must be protected. They are in this country to make a living. As long as they are not involved in crime, they need support."

Smangele Zuma said: "I don’t believe that they are taking anyone’s job. It is just that South Africans are lazy."

Louis Gcwabaza said that if he were to be in exile, he would do whatever job available, no matter how little it paid.

However, Thembisile Ngcobo said foreigners need to be taught a lesson. "They are committing crimes and they must go," said Ngcobo.

bhans@witness.co.za

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