Violence before May 2008
According to a 1998 Human Rights Watch report immigrants from Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique living in the Alexandra township were “physically assaulted over a period of several weeks in January 1995, as armed gangs identified suspected undocumented migrants and marched them to the police station in an attempt to ‘clean’ the township of foreigners.” The campaign, known as “Buyelekhaya” (go back home), blamed foreigners for crime, unemployment and sexual attacks.
In September 1998 a Mozambican and two Senegalese were thrown out of a train. The assault was carried out by a group returning from a rally that blamed foreigners for unemployment, crime and spreading AIDS.
In 2000 seven foreigners were killed on the Cape Flats over a five-week period in what police described as xenophobic murders possibly motivated by the fear that outsiders would claim property belonging to locals.
In October 2001 residents of the Zandspruit informal settlement gave Zimbabweans 10 days to leave the area. When the foreigners failed to leave voluntarily they were forcefully evicted and their shacks were burned down and looted. Community members said they were angry that Zimbabweans were employed while locals remained jobless and blamed the foreigners for a number of crimes. No injuries were reported among the Zimbabweans.
In the last week of 2005 and first week of 2006 at least four people, including two Zimbabweans, died in the Olievenhoutbosch settlement after foreigners were blamed for the death of a local man. Shacks belonging to foreigners were set alight and locals demanded that police remove all immigrants from the area.
In August 2006 Somali refugees appealed for protection after 21 Somali traders were killed in July of that year and 26 more in August. The immigrants believed the murders to be motivated by xenophobia, although police rejected the assertion of a concerted campaign to drive Somali traders out of townships in the Western Cape.
Attacks on foreign nationals increased markedly in late 2007 and it is believed that there were at least a dozen attacks between January and May 2008. The most severe incidents occurred on 8 January 2008 when two Somali shop owners were murdered in the Eastern Cape towns of Jeffreys Bay and East London and in March 2008 when seven people were killed including Zimbabweans, Pakistanis and a Somali after their shops and shacks were set alight in Atteridgeville near Pretoria.
Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara – vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika
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