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Calm restored after another bout of ‘non-xenophobic’ attacks in Durban

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eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede said calm has been restored in several areas in Durban after the attacks from the weekend, which have been explained as ‘non-xenophobic’.

On Monday, 1 April 2019, the eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede said calm had been restored in several residential areas in Durban after attacks on foreign nationals last week. Political Analysis SA had reported that hundreds of foreign nationals of Malawi descent had been attacked in several informal settlements in Sydenham, Durban.

The attacks happened in Burnwood informal settlement in Sydenham, and other attacks took place in the Kenville and Seacow Lake suburbs, north of Durban. Officials who responded to these attacks said the attacks were criminal activities, and not xenophobic attacks, as it had been reported. Locals in the Burnwood informal settlement attacked foreign nationals by beating them up, looting their shops and subsequently driving them out of the community after accusing the Malawians of stealing.

A day before the Burnwood attacks, locals in the Seacow Lake area had blocked Inanda Road in protest, which led to the death of a local woman who was an employee in a China City mall shop. Attempting to escape the angry mob, the woman climbed to the roof of the shop and fell to her death. Mayor Gumede said the attacks in Burnwood were motivated after a Malawian national was “found in possession of stolen goods that belonged to a South African.”

“This unfortunate situation was then hijacked by a group of locals who started kicking out other Malawians in the name of getting out ‘criminal elements’.

“As a sign of extending an olive branch, the Malawian nationals wrote a letter apologising for those that have committed the crime. This gesture was overwhelmingly welcomed by the locals who indicated that they were ready to welcome the Malawian nationals back into the community,” said Gumede.

On Tuesday, 2 April 2019, residents at Philani Valley in Umlazi, south of Durban, told SABC News that the attacks were not xenophobic in nature, but were a response to accusations that foreign nationals had killed 44-year-old Bhekani Madlala, who is a local, on Saturday, 30 March 2019. However, residents have expressed their willingness to welcome foreign nationals back into the informal settlements, promising to protect them from further attacks in the future. A large group of the foreign nationals have settled back into the community, but about 105 Malawians asked to return to their home country.

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]

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