No plan in place

2008-06-04 00:00

Compared with major cities, Pietermaritzburg hasn’t a serious xenophobia and/or refugee problem. Even so, municipal authorities, together with the city’s anti-xenophobic coalition, are preparing to help foreign nationals in a shelter set up in the CBD. Various NGOs are poised to help provide safe housing, food and other supplies, as well as counselling to those in need. The organisations concerned are known to be efficient, and it looks as if good co-ordination will make the programme run smoothly.

Clearly, the government has failed to grapple with the problem. It tries to cover its shortcomings by mumbling over the supposed causes of the xenophobic violence (the legacy of apartheid, poverty and culture, etc.). Nothing’s working — not the camps and shelters, not attempts at repatriation and not attempts at re-integration. And as the whole thing becomes more and more unravelled, and the authorities continue to throw up their hands, one crisis will lead to another and another, and the end result will be anarchy.

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