CRIMINALS ADD TO MAYHEM

Business Day, 21 May 2008

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Attacks in the Ramaphosa informal settlement, which began as xenophobic violence, continued yesterday with looting and the burning of shacks. Police spokeswoman Sasa Lengene said the situation was tense. “Criminals are taking advantage of the situation ... we don’t know what is happening, whether it is xenophobia or what," she said. Violence that started as xenophobic attacks in the settlement outside Reiger Park was “now spreading to everybody", she said. South Africans and foreigners were leaving the township to seek safety at the Reiger Park police station or other havens opened by the community. “People are leaving the township because they are scared," Lengene said. Gauteng police spokesman Dir Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said yesterday that 22 deaths had been confirmed. Earlier yesterday, a death was confirmed in Boksburg at the Joe Slovo informal settlement. Ekurhuleni metro spokesman Zweli Dlamini said the violence began on Monday night when foreigners were forced out of their shacks and attacked. The shacks were then set alight. “Hundreds of foreigners are now housed at the local community centre. The number is rapidly escalating and we might have to look for another shelter." They have been provided with food, blankets, healthcare and security.