SEND IN THE ARMY, FOREIGNERS PLEAD

The Star, 17 April 2008

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Thousands of immigrants were terrorised for a third day yesterday as thugs continued to attack, loot and burn their homes and businesses in Mamelodi. As the violence continued, a Mozambican immigrant rights organisation called on the SA National Defence Force to be deployed to restore peace and stability to the area. In the xenophobic attacks, believed to be fuelled by gangs of ordinary criminals, hundreds of people turned on immigrants throughout the township's informal settlements, including Alaska, Phomolong, Lusaka and Phase 5 and surrounding areas. Mamelodi's eastern informal settlements are home to Tshwane's biggest immigrant population. Hundreds of heavily armed police and Tshwane metro police in armoured vehicles swarmed through the sprawling informal settlements, clashing repeatedly with stone-throwing residents. Journalists were not spared either. Several were threatened and stoned for trying to report on the situation. A councillor said: "Our worst fears are being realised. If we don't contain this, there will be more bloodshed. "These people, whom I regard as terrorists, are determined to wipe out the immigrants. They won't stop until they do so." Mozambican community leader Mathias Ngundo called for the army to be deployed. "If they aren't, there will be bloodshed. People will die if the soldiers don't come to help the police. "It's chaos. What is happening is terrible. People are being hurt and killed. We need this to be stopped."