Hundreds of foreign nationals living in Bredasdorp in the Western Cape are now seeking refuge following violent attacks from South African residents.
According to reports, locals marched to the Cape Agulhas Municipality on Thursday, 24 March to hand over a memorandum regarding the influx of undocumented non-nationals in the area as well as the lack of access to land for informal dwelling and the lack of jobs in South Africa.
Deputy Mayor Raymond Ross then assured the residents that the Municipality will respond immediately to the memorandum and give feedback within the next seven days.
However, when the group returned to their homes, they started targeting shops and property owned by foreign nationals. Reports also emerged on Friday that two male foreign nationals sustained injuries due to the violent clashes.
The peaceful start of the Bredasdorp protest ended in shots being fired by the police!
🗣Come on people 🙄, do your protests peacefully. Don't put your policeman under pressure. They did nothing wrong. They have families too. 👪 pic.twitter.com/aPXBL1zVTi
— JG (Johan) van Zyl ✍✝️ (@JGvanZyl_ZA) March 24, 2022
Meanwhile, the displaced foreigners are staying at the NG Church Hall in Bredasdorp. According to the dominee at the church, there is not enough space for everyone as more and more people are streaming in.
Police have also opened a case of public violence, however, no arrest have been made so fa.
Police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi said protesters had voiced dissatisfaction that foreign nationals in the town were property owners and that local businesses employed them.
“The group marched to the local municipality to raise their concerns with the management, where they handed a memorandum to a municipal representative. As the group returned to their homes, they created splinter groups and deviated from the approved route, causing havoc. The police members used minimum force to restore order,” Swartbooi said.
He added that Bredasdorp police had opened a case of public violence, but that no arrest had been made.
On Friday, violence flared up again.
“Police and Law Enforcement agencies are hard at work today, as violence erupted early in the morning. Two foreign national males aged 23 and 42 sustained injuries due to the violent clashes on Friday morning and were transported to a nearby hospital for medical treatment,” he said.
Cape Agulhas Municipality Deputy Mayor Raymond Ross, municipal manager Eben Phillips and police station commander Lieutenant Colonel Gustav Tamboer on Thursday accepted a memorandum from the residents of Zwelitsha in Bredasdorp about the influx of foreigners in the area.
Phillips said the purpose of the memorandum was to bring several concerns to the attention of the municipality, including the influx of undocumented non-nationals in Zwelitsha, the lack of access to land for informal dwelling, the renting of informal dwellings to non-nationals by locals, and the lack of job creation opportunities.
Other areas of concern raised were illegal shebeens, drug houses, visibility of law enforcement, business owners refusing to employ South Africans to avoid labour laws, lack of proper sanitation in informal settlements, slow responses from police, and the Department of Home Affairs’s failure to deal with non-nationals.
Phillips added that Ross had assured the residents of Zwelitsha that the municipality would respond to the memorandum and give feedback within the next seven days.
A municipal coordinating committee led by Phillips was also established to address the residents’ concerns.
The xenophobic tensions come hot on the heels of violent clashes between seasonal farmworkers from Lesotho and locals from Robertson.
About 500 residents used burning tyres to block the entrance to Nkqubela in Robertson and threw rocks at vehicles to prevent contractors from loading workers onto the vehicles.
The Department of Labour has since announced it will investigate all farms in Robertson for the alleged employment of illegal foreign nationals.