RESIDENTS AMBIVALENT ABOUT REFUGEES

Cape Argus, 29 May 2008

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Residents of the Du Noon informal settlement, who in a fit of xenophobic rage forced immigrants to flee the area, have conflicting views on whether they want them to return. While some say they have been inconvenienced because immigrants owned many grocery stores in the area and locals now have to travel long distances to get basics, others insist that casting them out was the right thing to do. Along the dusty streets of the informal settlement, several businesses once owned by Somalis and other foreign nationals were still shut on Wednesday, almost a week after the violence flared up in the Western Cape. Resident Nosithile Kaleni said immigrants had rendered essential services in the area and because of the attacks basic food items had now become scarce. "We have no milk and bread here. We have to stand in long queues at the spaza and when you get to the front, the bread is finished," she said. Kaleni said there were few spaza shops owned by locals in the area and if the nearby store ran out of goods, residents had to walk for about 30 minutes to another spaza or "waste" money on a minibus taxi to get to a supermarket in Table View. "We are worried because we have no shops here. The violence is affecting all of us, we are suffering. "We want them (foreigners) back," she said. Nceba Gigi, another local, said foreigners did not cause any trouble in the area and were "doing something good". "They are entrepreneurs trying to feed their families. Since they're gone I have to go to Bayside Mall to fix my cellphone," he said. But concerns, ranging from unemployment and lack of business opportunities to drug abuse, resonated among residents who rejected the idea of reintegration. Steven Parsons blamed foreigners for the high unemployment rate in the area. "There is no work or business for us here. I have to collect scrap metal to feed my four children," he said. Parsons said he would not welcome the foreigners back into the area. Siphokazi Tyilapi claimed foreigners had brought drugs into the community and, to protect her children, she wanted to keep them out. Nokwanda Hlubi said she feared foreigners would retaliate and attack members of the community if they returned. "We don't want them back because we don't know what they will do to us," she said. The Cape Argus tracked down one immigrant who had returned to Du Noon to re-open his business. Teddy Ndayisenga of Burundi, who runs a barber shop, said: "Yes, I'm scared but I'm back because I don't want to stay in a camp. "You can't survive there. I need the money."