Mamelodi marchers accuse foreigners of destroying local business

2017-02-24 16:30
Atteridgeville. (CICA)

Atteridgeville. (CICA)

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WATCH: South Africans aren't xenophobic - Jacob Zuma

2017-02-24 15:06

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma says the march against immigrants in Pretoria on Friday is evidence that citizens are fed up with crime.WATCH

Johannesburg - A memorandum that Mamelodi residents handed to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria on Friday strongly criticised how they perceived foreign nationals to be conducting themselves in SA.

The memorandum, with a "Concern community for service delivery in Mamelodi" stamp, said government should not allow African immigrants in the area to operate businesses freely and without regulation.

They also criticised authorities for "failing" to clamp down on those without the proper licences and papers.

"We are driven into slavery, both black and white South Africans," they stated.

This message seemed to contradict the assertion by President Jacob Zuma on Friday that the march in Pretoria was by residents who were fed up by crime.

Speaking after the launch of Operation Phakisa, Zuma said the march included foreign nationals, was well organised, and was not xenophobic.

The three-page memo bemoaned foreign nationals’ involvement in industries like retail, transport, and hospitality.

"Our local hair industry was not protected by Competitions [sic] commission against foreign people charging unfair prices now our industry is destroyed," it stated.

"Our tuck-shops were destroyed because government did not protect local industries when they know people lack confidence."

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‘Must be deported’

They said African immigrants brought vehicles in from Zimbabwe to run delivery businesses locally, "not paying taxes, not having international drivers’ licences".

They were opposed to immigrants operating transport businesses with tuk tuks and other methods.

They also felt it was unfair that people, including foreign nationals, were registering to become Uber drivers.

“Local industries are not supported and respected… Stop those businesses. Support the local meter [taxi industry].”

The residents felt that foreign nationals were "destroying" the country’s image.

They accused Zimbabwean churchgoers of messing in public parks and having a hand in attacks at the Groenkloef Nature Reserve.

"They must be deported; immigration must be involved and deport them we are working backwards as a country."

On living conditions, they said residents had to pay a lot of money toward rent, water and electricity, yet people who invaded land and RDP houses did not have to pay anything.

Zuma said the media should be careful to label protests as xenophobic and that political leaders should also be cautious with their messages.

Crime affected everyone and people were fed up, he said.

"If there are people who occupy houses and use them for crime, this will make people angry. How do we fight crime?

"We must focus on drug lords and deal with them. Those are the gaps we need to close."

Zuma urges understanding

Whether South African or foreign, criminals should be properly dealt with, Zuma said.

He said it would be a sad day when crime and drugs caused chaos in the country.

He also urged South Africans to be understanding toward foreign nationals.

He questioned how xenophobic South Africans were, saying, if they were, "this country wouldn't have this many immigrants".

He said only 5% of immigrants were refugees.

"The number of foreigners in South Africa is far more than in Europe. They don't want immigrants."

Zuma said he had met with ministers to discuss what they could do to fight crime.

He would also be talking to police.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  protests  |  xenophobia

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