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Laying charges ‘not an option’

Foreign nationals living in Zwelihle say they are living in fear since the violent riots that rocked the area.

One woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity as she fears victimization, says she was lucky enough to escape before the violence started during the second week of July.

“When I heard nobody would be allowed to go to work as they would start protesting I took some of my stuff and left,” she stated. “My brother who stayed was assaulted by a group who wanted to rob him and force him to take part in the riots.”

She was lucky enough to find refuge with her employers but is worried about her family.

“They weren’t able to go to work so I took food to them. I am desperate to find a place to live so we can all be safe. Foreigners are targeted on a daily basis, not only when there are riots, and called nasty names like ‘makwerekwere’,” she stated.

The young woman and some of her relatives moved to South Africa, hoping for a better life.

She explains: “We came to South Africa to earn money to send home. It is difficult here because we are treated badly but we have no choice, we have to stay so we can help our families back home.”

Princess (not her real name) and her husband are in the same boat.

They lost everything when their home was attacked two weeks ago.

“We stayed home but they accused us of going to work. They dragged us out of bed and burned everything we owned. My husband was assaulted when he tried to get our money and documents from the cupboard,” she recalled with tears streaming down her face. Princess and her husband have been separated as a result of their home being destroyed and have to rely on the goodwill of others. She is unsure whether their savings - more than R10 000 - were stolen or went up in smoke with the rest of their possessions.

“We were saving up to go home and start a business. Now, even if we wanted to, we can’t leave because we have no money and I lost my job. I am desperate for work so we can afford a place where we will be safe,” said the emotional woman.

Laying charges at the police, she says, is not an option.

“If you make a case they will come to kill you. We can rather loose everything but not our lives,” she said.

Captain Fadila September, spokesperson for Hermanus Police, says a number of such incidents have been reported.

“No formal charges were laid possibly due to fear of intimidation,” she stated.

  • Read more on page 5.
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