Foreign street vendors are accusing the police of trying to hide a xenophobic attack on foreign street vendors by a group of Zulu-speaking people at the flea market on Soldiers Way in Durban on Sunday.
The victims say the attackers called themselves members of Mkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans Association.
The attack did not garner much media attention because both the eThekwini Metro Police and the provincial South African Police Service denied there was any attack. People who spoke to The Witness said police officers saw the attack.
On Tuesday, SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Captain Gwala told The Witness that a case of “intimidation and theft” was being investigated by the SAPS in connection with the alleged attack, but that no arrests have been made.
Josbin Fundi (19) showed The Witness a copy of his file from Addington Hospital where he was admitted on Sunday, after being assaulted.
Fundi fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo with his family at the height of the civil war in the early 2000s. He said he has been in South Africa since 2004.
His mother sells fruit and sweets at the flea market to make ends meet.
On Sunday, Fundi was accompanying his mother to the Sunday flea market.
They, along with other foreigners, had previously been scared away from trading at the Workshop market.
“A group of men came to us, they said they were from MK Vets and asked us where we were from and whether we were South African,” said Fundi. “Then all of a sudden they started grabbing my mother and taking her money. That’s when I jumped in and they started hitting me.”
Fundi had to get stitches on his head. He said his mother was unhurt.
Fundi said there were other foreign street vendors who were seriously injured and were recuperating either at home or in the hospital.
Zibuse Cele from the MK Vets said he was not involved in the attack.
“We [MK Vets] are against assault.
“The people who did this were obviously naughty people who pretended they were MK Vets,” he said. “At the moment, all MK Vets are in Nkandla or at home, we didn’t send anyone to go attack foreigners on Sunday,” he said.
At the Refugee Social Services offices on Diakonia Avenue over 50 foreign women demanded that the plight of foreigners in Durban be escalated to the United Nations.
“The [SA] government has failed to step up and find a solution that is why people are acting like they are in a lawless country,” said Daniel Dunia, director of Africa Solidarity Network.