There have been no attacks or harassment of any sort in any of the settlements affiliated to Abahlali or with an Abahlali branch. (The movement has members in Durban, Pinetown, Tongaat & Pietermaritzburg.)
Foreigners attacked in PMB
26 May 2008
REPORTS of sporadic attacks on foreign nationals have surfaced in
Pietermaritzburg. The past weekend saw property set alight and a
Zimbabwean national leaving Imbali, covered in blood.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, a shack in the city centre
occupied by a Congolese man was burnt down. The occupant was threatened
earlier in the day and told to get out of SA.
That evening he moved out of the shack behind the Solid Rock Global
Ministries church complex in Retief Street — and found it gutted the
next morning. He had spent the night in the church building with other
According to the refugees, they could smell burning, but were too scared
to come out of the building. They only emerged when they heard the fire
“We saw about 20 people standing on the concrete wall separating the
complex and Kismet Hotel. They started shouting, ‘Kwerekwere, go back to
your country!’,” said refugee Didier Matindi.
The Imbali attack happened on Saturday, when a Zimbabwean known only as
Ebel was stabbed by a young man in his rented room after he refused to
hand over his cellphone and money.
An eyewitness said Ebel was preparing to leave SA because he had been
intimidated previously and was selling some of his possessions. A group
of young men went to his room and pretended to be interested in buying
his things, but once inside they produced knives and held him up.
“When he refused, one of them stabbed him on the head. Ebel grabbed a
knife and stabbed one of them in the shoulder and they all ran away
after neighbours were alerted …” said the witness.
He said Ebel refused to go to a clinic. He collected his belongings and
boarded a taxi.
“We accompanied him to the city, where he bought a hat to cover his
injured head. He boarded a taxi saying he was going to Durban to get
transport to Malawi,” said the witness.
Yesterday, a Malawian vendor was attacked in Slatter Street near the
Imbali taxi rank, apparently by taxi drivers and conductors. They
pointed to an elbow and asked him what it was and when he didn’t know
the obscure Zulu word, they then called him “ikwerekwere” before
assaulting and robbing him.
A Congolese woman said their South African friends have turned against
them. “I run a salon in Pietermaritz Street, and next to it there is a
coffee shop where I have been always buying a cup of coffee in the
morning. But on Friday when I went to buy one, the waiter told me there
is no coffee for me and I must leave …”
Another Congolese woman said that in Impendle on Friday she and a friend
going to sell clothes were insulted and told to leave the country.
“These people were like friends to us. They welcomed us with open arms …
But suddenly they turned against us,” said another woman.
Another woman said that yesterday morning a man came to her complex
looking for a house to rent. When she told the man that there was no
room, the man said: “You kwerekwere have a place to stay while I don’t”.
It won’t happen here, say residents of PMB’s Jika Joe
(Ash Road has a strong Abahlali branch. A non AbM member did try to attack a person born in another country but he met instant and stiff opposition and its now clear that the settlements is safe for everyone except xenophobes bent on violence)
26 May 2008
Residents of the Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg have
taken a stand against attacks on foreigners.
While the informal settlement in Ash Road is mainly inhabited by local
citizens, it has accommodated more than 500 foreigners over the years.
Criticising xenophobia at an imbizo aimed at informing residents about
recent Msunduzi housing development plans for them, ward councillor
Peter Green said: “This behaviour of attacking foreigners is totally
unacceptable … Everyone should be respected as human being.”
“Residents have promised us that cases like this will not happen in
their area,” said Inspector Hamilton Madakana.
Community leader Bongani Mkhize said that what has been happening in
this country is bad and Jike Joe residents do not want it happening
He said community members need to work together. “If residents in every
community can catch one or two group leaders of these attacks, the whole
thing can stop.”
Foreigners who have been living in Jika Joe for two years said they are
unhappy and shocked.
“We are here to make a living so that we can support our families. We
urge South Africans to stop assaulting us, because everyone is a
foreigner in a country that is not his birth place,” said Benard Filo