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Fresh xenophobia fears grip SA

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JOHANNESBURG — Residents of Alexandra in South Africa have warned of an uprising over foreigners living in Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses, rekindling fears of fresh xenophobic attacks similar to the violent scenes that rocked the sprawling township a few years ago, which left several Zimbabweans dead.

About two million Zimbabweans are believed to be living in South Africa as “economic refugees”.

This follows a series of deportation of hundreds of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants from South
Africa. Yesterday, South African media was awash with reports that residents of Alexandra were warning foreigners to get out of the RDP houses or face the wrath of the citizens of that country.

“If government doesn’t want to help us, then we as the community need to rise up on our own,” a resident, Angeline Masango, told South African news agency News24.Com yesterday.

“It’s going to be difficult. To my knowledge the people of Alex . . . are angry.”

Masango said she had registered three times for an RDP house, but was told she would need to pay R3 000 or R6 000 if she wanted to get one.

“I’m staying in a shack . . . life is difficult. Some days you come home and find your bed is wet because of the rain.”

News24.Com also quoted another resident, who requested anonymity, saying the people of Alexandra did not want to live with the foreigners.

“They (foreigners) must have their own place — not around us,” said the 55-year-old woman.

“We feel bad because our children don’t have houses . . . I’ve been waiting about 10, 15 years for a house.”

The woman said she had paid R3 000 for an RDP house.

“I gave my money to someone in the council,” she said.
Albert Mhlare, another Alexandra resident, said he was worried that violence would erupt over the issue of foreigners.

“We know they are not allowed to be there,” he said.
“I’m very worried about the violence.”

On Tuesday, residents put up posters warning foreigners to vacate RDP houses.

They delivered pamphlets to the houses and hung posters on street lamps.

It was reported that the posters read: “You are violating our rights to own our RDP houses”.

In one of the letters handed out, they said: “The residents of Alexandra don’t want . . . xenophobia unless you give them a cause to do so.”
In another letter they said: “We demand that you vacate at your own free will without being pushed like animals or aliens.”

Residents have given the foreigners until Sunday to vacate the houses in the township.Residents say foreign nationals are receiving RDP houses before the locals because they are able to pay.

“I didn’t pay because I have got no money,” said Marks Lehlokoa. They give (houses to) foreigners with money. Government is doing nothing.

“They don’t care about us.” – News24.Com/Staff Reporter

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