MEETING ON XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS

The Star/Sapa, 17 April 2008

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More than 600 people have marched to a community soccer field after Mamelodi East residents allegedly burnt shacks and spaza shops belonging to foreigners. Pretoria police spokesperson Captain Sipho Mabena said yesterday: "They are going to a local soccer field to discuss the problem they want to know if the illegal immigrants will be chased away." Mabena said residents were accusing the Mozambican and Zimbabwean nationals of burning their own property. "Police are deployed in large numbers. The crowd want to gather at the local soccer field in Phomolong section in Mamelodi East." The impromptu meeting comes after residents looted spaza shops and burnt shacks belonging to foreigners in the area on Tuesday."People living in the shacks that have been burnt were taken to the Stanza Bopape local community hall, where they are being temporarily housed," Mabena said. "The Red Cross is also here taking care of people whose homes were burnt."A total of 21 people have been arrested in connection with the arson; four of them face charges of malicious damage to property while the others face public violence charges. All were men aged between 22 and 40 years old and were in custody at the Mamelodi East police station. Mabena could not confirm when the men would appear in court. Several residents were also attacked yesterday. Mabena said the crowd at the soccer field was addressed by community safety representative Sam Mangena and community leaders.