'VICIOUS ATTACKS ARE STILL HAPPENING'

Cape Argus , 13 June 2008

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"It was a big mistake to go back." These were the rueful words of a Zimbabwean woman, who returned to her Khayelitsha home to fetch blankets and was attacked and forced to leave for a second time. The 38-year-old woman did not want to be identified because she feared her attackers would find her. Further allegations of attacks, which the victims believe are xenophobia-related, have come from two other Zimbabweans, while a Somali has repeated allegations of more threats of xenophobic attacks on Youth Day, June 16. The latest allegations come amid government's call for, and refugees' rejection of, reintegration into communities from which refugees were ousted. The Zimbabwean woman had been living in the area for almost two years. She recalled the first attack on a Friday afternoon three weeks ago when she was warned to leave. "They told us to leave everything behind. "Leave it! It's not yours because you came here with nothing," they told us." She fled with her 20-month-old baby on her back and stayed for three days at the municipal hall before moving to a shelter in Salt River. There were not enough blankets for all occupants so the woman returned to the area on Saturday to see if she could salvage any blankets. "It was a big mistake. I shouldn't have gone back." As she stood in front of a vacant plot she became confused as to whether it was where her home used to be. "Then they saw me," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "They recognised me and started pushing me around. They asked me: "Do you want to die today?" It was worse than the first time." The woman fell with her baby on her back. "At least the first time the police were there. This time I was alone. I was powerless." She escaped with an injured back and hand and she had bruises on her body. She ran along the road. "They were jeering at me: "Makwerekwere go home!". "The woman said a "coloured man driving a car" dropped her off at a taxi rank in Site C and she fled Khayelitsha for the second time this month. "I'm sure if I didn't have my baby with me they would have killed me." She said she would not return because she was too scared. "I never thought they would destroy everything. I thought they were my neighbours." "I am especially scared of the younger ones, they don't know what they are doing." She said reintegration was not an option. "You can't go back there, the old people might be willing to let you come back, but not the young ones, especially those that are not working." Meanwhile, David Kufa who arrived in Cape Town six months ago from Zimbabwe, said his friend, Simabrashe Nduku, 23, was stabbed in the left arm and robbed on Monday night by "skollies". "To me that is a good indication to show that the same is still going to happen all over the township," he said. Kelvin Khumalo, still suffering a bruised face after being assaulted and robbed by youths in Khayelitsha last week, said he was told that he and other refugees should be out of the township by June 25 or they would be killed. Referring to a meeting earlier this week to promote safe reintegration, Khumalo said refugees were getting mixed messages. "It is very difficult to understand because the elderly (people) in this meeting tell us that everything is safe, but the youths always think differently and are still attacking us." The 30-year-old man has been in Cape Town for three years and makes a living selling DVDs. He alleged that youths tripped him and kicked him repeatedly in the face. He said they took his bag. "They shouted, 'Nank'omunye , nal'ikwirikwiri (here is another one, here is a foreigner)'," Khumalo said. Mahad Omar of Somalia repeated allegations of more threats of xenophobic attacks on Youth Day, June 16. At the meeting, Safety and Security MEC Leonard Ramatlakane assured refugees that those who threatened them did not represent the views of Khayelitsha's 500 000 residents.