Too scared to say a foreign word

2008-05-23 00:00

Xenophobic attacks are not reserved for the poor in shack settlements. A young Morningside mother, who arrived from Kenya with her engineer husband nearly 10 years ago and is now a permanent resident, has retreated into her flat, too afraid even to send her children to school.

Asking that her name be withheld and refusing photographs, the woman said it is not the first time she has been a prisoner in her own home. A short while ago, she was the victim of a vicious racist attack by a homeless man who had been watching her for weeks.

She was walking with a friend when the man began running, shouting in Zulu. She did not respond as she does not understand Zulu. Without warning, he punched her in the face, knocking her down.

“He then started shouting in English, asking why I was walking with a white woman. If that man had had anything in his hand, I would have been dead.”

She managed to struggle to her feet. “He was still coming for me … I was screaming and running in the road between the cars holding my face because it was bleeding.”

Currently on maternity leave, she is not prepared to venture out.

“I don’t want others in this neighbourhood to know that I am not South African. The minute black South Africans realise that I don’t speak Zulu, they hate me. Women have accused me of coming to South Africa to steal their husbands. I don’t talk when I use a taxi because I am too afraid.”

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