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Marchers loot businesses of foreign nationals

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The memorandum also dealt with poor rotation of EPWP and CWP jobs at the Overberg District Municipality and Cape Agulhas Municipality and the manner in which the Department of Home Affairs allegedly deals with foreign nationals.

A municipal coordinating committee led by the Municipal Manager has been established to address the concerns of the residents. Chaos erupted

CAM Municipal Manager Eben Phillips confirmed that the necessary permission for the march had been granted. He reported the municipality had facilitated talks among various role players, including the Human Rights Commission, Department of Home Affairs’ Immigration Unit, the police, local residents and delegates representing Zimbabweans living in the community during the week leading up to the march.

“Although this is a human rights issue, the municipality decided to act as facilitators because it affects our community,” Phillips said.

The police had to use stun grenades when, after handing over the memorandum, protesters veered from the route and tried to mob a number of businesses. They then went on to loot businesses owned by foreign nationals and attack their homes. Some managed to flee only with the clothes on their back, others managed to salvage some of their belongings. The foreign nationals were given refuge at Die Glaskasteel Town Hall and church halls.

A local resident who asked to remain anonymous describes the plight of the displaced foreign nationals as desperate.

“They haven’t been allowed to return to their homes to retrieve their belongings,” she said. “Some have only the clothes they escaped in.”

Some residents believe those responsible for the violence are “newcomers” to Bredasdorp. “There are some locals too and as with any unrest there are chancers only looking to cause trouble,” said one.

Looting, vicious attacks

The municipality condemned the attacks and called on the police to “act decisively” against any criminal activity and for the perpetrators to “be arrested and prosecuted with the full might of the law.”

Warrant Officer Jakobus Marthinus, the Bredasdorp Police spokesperson, confirmed no arrests in connection with public violence had been made.

The police have, however, arrested a number of suspects for possession of suspected stolen goods after they were found in possession of items believed to have been stolen during the looting of foreign nationals’ homes.

He confirmed two Zimbabwean nationals were injured on Friday.

“The police transported both victims to the local hospital,” he stated. “One man was later discharged from hospital and the other, who sustained much more serious wounds, had to be transferred to Tygerberg Hospital.”

On Monday, he described the situation as seemingly calm.

“The local police, Public Order Police and Cape Agulhas Municipality’s law enforcement unit are maintaining a high visibility,” said Marthinus.Negotiations

The municipality launched a multi-government approach in managing the situation.

Reverend Chris Nissen, the National Human Rights Commissioner, also visited the area and was involved in the attempts to restore peace.

Over the weekend the Cape Agulhas Municipality released a statement saying that the talks and attempts at mediation had been unsuccessful.

The talks, involving the municipality, local police, Human Rights Commission and various other role players continued on Monday.

Brigadier Donovan Heilbron, Overberg Police Cluster Commander, confirmed late Monday afternoon that talks to reintegrate the nationals into the community are still ongoing.

“Things are calm at the moment but we are still busy with talks involving all relevant role players to reintegrate the foreign nationals that have been displaced. We are also monitoring surrounding areas for the outbreak of similar situations,” he added.

The municipality thanked everyone who assisted with the provision of food, blankets, and shelter. Those involved in the relief efforts, say the biggest need is for clothing, baby nappies and formula and toiletries.

“Donations of toiletries are most welcome and can be dropped off at the kitchen area of the Glaskasteel Community Hall,” said Phillips.

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