‘There must be proof attacks were xenophobic’

2015-05-07 06:00

NOT a single foreign national has been attacked or killed in Pietermaritzburg due to xenophobic violence­.

KwaZulu-Natal Safety and Security­ MEC Willies Mchunu emphatically stated that the recent murders in Imbali and Greytown are not xenophobic attacks unless evidence is produced that proves otherwise.

The Witness reported on Tuesday that the murders, which happened on Sunday and Thursday nights, have sparked fear among refugees living in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding ­areas.

The attacks came after a march against xenophobia was held in ­Pietermaritzburg last Thursday.

“I am not aware of any foreign nationals having been attacked in Pietermaritzburg, not even one.

“Even the ones in the shelters, they ran away after messages started circulating on social media but they were never attacked. I would not classify the Imbali murder as a xenophobic attack,” said Mchunu.

He said perceptions by the community would “remain perceptions­” until the motive was proven.

“If anyone came to me about that attack in Imbali said that it was for xenophobic reasons and there were facts at my disposal I will agree with them, but before that is done I can’t just conclude. I have received no report from Pietermaritzburg SAPS that a xenophobic attack happened.”

Mchunu, several non-profit organisations, the eThekwini Metro and several African diplomats were yesterday locked in a marathon closed consultation session on how best to deal with displaced foreign nationals in the medium term.

Key among their discussions was how to streamline government services.

“In the maximum we had four temporary shelters in the province.

“These were Isipingo, Chatsworth, Phoenix [which was the amalgamating of Greenwood Park and Canelands] as well as Dales Park in Pietermaritzburg.

“At one stage we were housing 8 000 people.

Only Isipingo and Chatsworth remain totalling 500.”

He said Dales Park was closed “after all those there were re-integrated” either back to their country of origin or from where they were displaced.

Last week several hundred Malawian­ nationals were bused out of Pietermaritzburg back to their home country.

“The unfortunate situation is that criminal elements that affect any foreign national are immediately taken as xenophobic,” said Mchunu

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