Foreign nationals crowd Himeville

2012-07-11 00:00

THE Himeville community is concerned about the swelling numbers of foreign nationals — from 54 countries, including Jamaica and Pakistan — who have flocked to the Drakensberg village to take part in the Home Affairs Department’s programme of profiling immigrants.

The Witness reported two months ago that large numbers of foreigners had arrived in the village hoping to be issued with South African identity documents.

Underberg business owner Angie Shackleford said she had to remove people from her shop as they appeared to have been falsifying documents.

“They were here taking forms off the Internet, printing PDF documents and changing the wording.

“We see them in the shop on a daily basis to have forms laminated. Most of them believe they have permanent residence status,” she said.

John Pearce, CEO of the Underberg/Himeville Community Watch, said they have received complaints from B&B owners of people coming in at 2 am.

“One B&B owner even complained that someone came in and asked to use the shower.”

He said people in the village were uncomfortable with the numbers.

“We’re not geared to have these sort of numbers here. Where do they go to the toilet? Where do they bath? Where do they sleep?” he asked.

In the township, Siyabonga Dlamini and two others, who asked not to be named for fear of losing their shop assistant jobs, said they felt sorry for the foreigners.

“These people are suffering. On weekends they stay on the field, rain or sunshine,” he said.

Another local said: “It was cold one night and I invited three of them to come sleep in my shack. It is still hard for us Africans.

“The government is not fair on them. They brought them here, they should provide shelter for them. This is not right.”

KwaSani Mayor Mdu Banda said the municipality had made toilets accessible and bins available near the soccer field where the foreigners gathered.

A 43-year-old post-graduate engineering student from Nigeria said he had been given a white slip bearing his photo, his date of birth, country of origin and a barcode.

“I am a foreigner so I do not want to involve myself in another country’s politics,” he said.

Banda said about half the foreign nationals had documents and passports.

“They are already on the system and do not need to be there. They go there thinking that there is a possibility that they might be issued with South African identity documents.”

Home Affairs deputy director-general Vusi Mkhize said the department would be checking its databases to to trace foreign residents who were in the country illegally.

The Democratic Alliance’s David Adam said the soccer field where the foreigners had made their home had become a health hazard.

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