News24

De Doorns situation 'serious'

2009-11-17 19:46

Cape Town - The situation in De Doorns where 3 500 foreigners were forced out of their shacks by angry locals is "serious", said Western Cape MEC for community safety Lennit Max on Tuesday.

Max visited the township after thousands of foreign nationals fled their homes following a flare-up of xenophobia.

The MEC's spokesperson Julian Jansen said Max had "full confidence" in local officials who settled on a temporary arrangement with locals to leave the foreigners alone.

Jansen said the farmers' association, police and township residents were party to the agreement.

Temporary accommodation

For the moment, many of the 3 500 foreigners will stay in a municipal storeroom next to a police station, Die Burger reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper reported that marquee tents were also being put up on a sports field and farmers have also taken in some people.

De Doorns station commissioner Supt Desmond van der Westhuizen said there were no reports of physical violence against foreigners. He said there were no reports of injuries and no arrests were made.

"Police fired rubber bullets [on Tuesday morning] because of the fact that people tried to dismantle shacks in the area," Van der Westhuizen told Reuters.

Tension building

Tensions had been building since last week after locals claimed the foreigners - mostly Zimbabweans, as well as some Lesotho nationals - were accepting lower wages than locals and robbing them of jobs.

Van der Westhuizen said 68 foreigners had over the weekend slept at the storeroom following a shebeen fight on Friday night in which Zimbabweans were involved, and rumours that action was to be taken against foreigners.

He earlier told Reuters the situation was "tense but under control".

 

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