Pretoria News, 20 March 2008

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A man believed to be a foreigner was shot during a second day of fierce xenophobic violence in informal settlements west of Pretoria. Criminal elements and local residents continued to terrorise foreigners during the day on Wednesday and well into the night. Marauding groups - armed with paraffin and petrol bombs, poles and other sharp implements - torched more than 10 homes and businesses of foreigners, who they blame for crime in the informal settlements in Atteridgeville. On Monday two people were killed after a march on the Atteridgeville police station. The deaths followed the murder of two Zimbabweans in Olievenhoutbosch on Saturday and a spate of attacks the past few weeks. Foreigners have been forced to flee their homes in Soshanguve south, Mooiplaas and Itireleng informal settlements. Wednesday's shooting is believed to have occurred when the man returned home from work. The gunmen are believed to have been waiting for him and opened fire as he walked into his house. It is not known if anyone else was injured in the attack. Atteridgeville police station spokesperson Captain Thomas Mufamadi confirmed the shooting, saying that the man was being treated at Kalafong Hospital. Foreigners continue to flee the area as police patrol Phomolong, Jeffsville, Brazzaville, Atteridgeville West and Siyahlala settlements, where gangs have been terrorising foreigners. Numerous homes and businesses belonging to foreigners were deserted on Wednesday, with possessions scattered in streets and their owners nowhere in sight. While some immigrants sought shelter at the Atteridgeville police station, others took to the slopes of the Schurveberg for a second night in shelters built alongside farms in the area. Some have been taken in by local residents, many of whom have taken a great risk in hiding foreigners from the mobs. Home Affairs Department spokesperson Mantshele wa ga Tau said the department condemned the attacks "with the contempt they deserve". He said: "This violence will not be tolerated and has to be deplored unequivocally." Human rights groups ahead of Human Rights Day celebrations tomorrow urged the government and police to stop paying "lip service" with regards xenophobic attacks and to instead act against those who attacked and killed foreigners. Duncan Breen, an advocacy officer for the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, said: "All South Africans, particularly the leadership, should condemn these attacks. We need to come up with measures and partnerships to prevent these from happening." Breen said "rogue" elements in many communities were using service delivery protests to get rid of foreign nationals. "There is competition for business and perceptions are that all foreigners commit crime. If the government does not act now, the attacks will continue. There have been warning signs where members of the community have distributed pamphlets telling people that foreigners are bad. That was when we needed to act," said Breen. SA Institute of Race Relations deputy chief executive Frans Cronje said: "The attacks are fuelled by 'perceptions' that all foreign nationals 'take' jobs, women and commit crime. "Police are aware of where the 'hot spots' for the attacks are and should be preventing them." He added: "Most South Africans are hypocrites. When our leaders went into exile they were welcomed, but once foreign nationals from the same countries come here, we want them removed."