Home is a white tent while Malawians wait for the bus

2015-04-24 00:00

WAITING for more buses to take them home, 165 Malawians sat anxiously around their new home yesterday — a large white tent at Dale’s Park.

Chased from their homes at the height of the xenophobic attacks that hit Pietermaritzburg last week, some men and women flocked to the East Street Mosque last week to seek refuge.

Although police and the Home ­Affairs Department promised to escort them back to their homes around ­Pietermaritzburg, they chose to leave, saying they no longer feel safe living in South Africa.

As three buses packed to full capacity left for Malawi on Tuesday, more people flocked to Mountain Rise Mosque, where the buses had been stationed, wanting to return home too.

With more people arriving, they were moved to Dale’s Park on Wednesday, where Msunduzi’s Disaster Management Department organised security to protect the camp and a tent for the displaced foreigners to sleep in.

Malawian Jacob Phiri said although there was no place to wash and they were cramped into a tent waiting to go home, it was better than being out on the streets.

“We are safe here. There is security here and it is better than being out there.”

He said he was anxious to get home and get his life started again.

Phiri said he had only been in South Africa for six months. He had come to make money so he could start his own business in Malawi, but was chased from his home in Cinderella Park last week. Phiri learnt to cook while in ­Pietermaritzburg and hopes to open a business serving food back in Malawi.

Nizamia Islamic School teacher ­Mohammed Saeed said Dr Aziz Moosa from the Islamic Medical Association (IMA) would do the rounds at the camp yesterday afternoon, and check on those who required medical attention.

Saeed said the Al-Imdaad Foundation would arrange the preparation of meals for the camp from this evening.

Msunduzi spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the Home Affairs office had confirmed that a bus would arrive today to take some people back to their homes in Malawi.

“They are expecting the bus tomorrow, but they are not sure about the time.

“The processes done by Home ­Affairs and the arrival of buses will ­determine the refugees’ stay,” she said.

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