Foreigners beg for mercy as Operation Dudula leaders vow to take the law into their own hands

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Why Operation Dudula leaders say they are taking the law into their own hands while their victims, foreigners who came to live and work in South Africa, say that no one is willing to help them.


Our law enforcement is ineffective… Law enforcement was not enforcing the law, which Operation Dudula does with ease, says Ngwato. Enforcement of municipal by-laws is not happening. You find that a person selling the food to the community runs a scrapyard in the same place…

Another area, which we want our affiliation with Operation Dudula to help resolve, in the community is the issue of drugs. There are illegal sales of buildings through drugs proceeds and foreign nationals are not alone in this, but with other South Africans also. Here in Orange Grove it’s white people and Nigerians who are dealing in drugs and we want to end that.

Operation Dudula is not some fictional movement. We are currently in discussions with police regarding conducting of their operations. Some of the police are addicts and alcoholics themselves and our community wants all this to change, and Operation Dudula will do the cleanup.


All the buildings in Jeppestown – add jobs to that – are occupied by illegal immigrants. Our fellow South African brothers are stranded. And what do you say about drugs? We are … pushing for accountability. The community here is fed up [with] the illegal foreign nationals and their illegal drug trade and we cannot live side by side with them because of their involvement in crime.

Our dream is to revive vigorous economic activity in Jeppestown and expand the opportunities that once were, and we cannot effectively do this while in competition with illegal foreign nationals.

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You want to know why we joined Operation Dudula in Jeppe? Because all these three things that I have highlighted will be in the past. Already we have seen companies and other entities gear to hire South African citizens following the successful Jeppestown operation and launch. The Jeppestown community is fed up with lawlessness, an inept police force, illegal immigrants and drugs, and Operation Dudula is the Messiah.


Hillbrow is one area that is congested with illegal foreigners and the biggest challenge with this is that they are involved in selling drugs in the streets… Secondly, shops in Hillbrow are 100% occupied by foreigners, which makes it very hard for South Africans to break into that market.

You have Pedros, which employed 100% foreigners, but after our Operation Dudula launch and operations, there [are] 40% foreign migrants and 60% South Africans. The community sees that as progress. But we want to see at least 80% South Africans employed in non-scarce skilled jobs. [In its latest launches and operations, Operation Dudula has demanded a 100% South African employment quota.]

The police have been ineffective for many years and citizens had no one to turn to amidst rising criminality. We want foreign migrants to be in the country legally because if they are illegal and commit crimes they cannot be traced. Operation Dudula will fix all these things because our government has failed.


I was gathering my stock, preparing to leave, when Operation Dudula members in white T-shirts and camouflage clothing arrived where I sell fruit and vegetables. Some of them insulted me and called me a foreigner, while others kicked the plates on which my stock was on display. They manhandled me and told me to leave and never come back.

I live in Johannesburg so I cannot understand why some foreign nationals who are making an honest living are targeted.I was so scared, I thought they wouldn’t end by scattering my stock. I was scared that they would hurt me. I have been in SA for 13 months and I am considering returning home as soon as I can. They were angry and they burnt our crates and other material we use at the market.


I have been living in fear for almost a year since some Operation Dudula members [came] to evict me. I was shocked because as far as I know this building belongs to the government and they were supposed to be evicting illegal foreigners. I’m from the Eastern Cape.

The last time they were here they gave us until 15 February [to vacate] the building. I’m not stubborn, as some of them may think, but I have nowhere else to go… When we were evicted last year, no one came to our rescue. Even the councillor did not help us after we reported our situation. I just wish for peace because there is no illegal foreigner staying here, if that is the issue. I don’t know when they will be coming again.


I’m at their mercy – we all are. They removed us from the stalls and told us that the stalls would be reserved for South Africans, but the stalls have been standing empty. It has been over a week now. I stay in the Johannesburg CBD and I don’t know what to do because I have schoolgoing children and a family to feed.

Police tried to intervene on Tuesday but failed to come up with a satisfactory solution. We are at their mercy. We are starving now. You cannot make any difference with the little money we make at the market if you skip one day.

We have been kept out for over a week now and nothing is moving. No one is willing to take responsibility and help us.

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