Army 'not deployed for xenophobia'

2010-07-08 08:40

Johannesburg - The police denied on Thursday that the army was deployed to Ramaphosa informal settlement on Johannesburg's East Rand for fear of an outbreak of xenophobic attacks.

"It was normal crime prevention duties. There is no fear of anything," said Warrant Officer Andre de Jager.

He said the police and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) had a joint crime prevention operation on Wednesday.

"We all met at Brakpan airfield. We had an operation within Brakpan and Boksburg. We were using one of the army helicopters and it was just visible policing in that area.

"We split up into two teams and some soldiers were dropped off at Reiger Park, but there was nothing happening."

Fears of xenophobic attacks

The Times newspaper reported on Thursday morning that the army moved into the area for fear of an outbreak of xenophobic attacks.

De Jager said no soldiers were deployed in the area on Thursday.

"It was only for yesterday [Wednesday]."

Vicious xenophobic attacks broke out at Ramaphosa settlement near Reiger Park two years ago.

In 2008, 62 people were killed and 150 000 displaced in a wave of xenophobic attacks that started in Gauteng.

An inter-ministerial committee on xenophobia was expected to brief the media on Thursday on a programme to deal with renewed threats of outbreaks of violence against foreigners.

Scores of foreigners have started packing for their home countries amid threats from locals that they would be attacked after the Soccer World Cup ended on Sunday.