ALEX BRACES FOR MORE XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE

Cape Times, 15 May 2008

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About 2 000 to 5 000 Alexandra residents were dispersed by police using rubber bullets in the township last night. Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the group gathered between 6th and 8th Streets along London Road around 6.30. He described the crowd as "very aggressive". There were also reports that further evictions of foreigners were taking place inside the township. As the township braced itself in fear of another night of violence, the government condemned what it called "dastardly" attacks on foreigners. However, provincial-level politicians continued to maintain the unrest was driven by motives other than xenophobia. The violence has left two people dead since Sunday, police said last night. Though the situation was reportedly calm yesterday morning, police said three teenagers were shot or stabbed overnight, and the total number of arrests had risen to 66. The violence has reportedly been directed at foreigners. Locals accuse them of taking jobs and RDP homes. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad said attacks on foreigners were "dastardly acts". "We would not be here today were it not for the tremendous sacrifices made by our brothers and sisters in the Front Line states." However, ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile said during a visit to the township there was no campaign to drive foreigners out of Alexandra. He said the violence was "an act of criminality". Also in the township yesterday was ANC national executive committee member Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who visited the families of two people who died. One of those she visited was South African citizen Pretty Nzama, whose South African husband, Siphiwe, was killed on Sunday night. Nzama said men came into her home and shot her husband for no reason, leaving her and her seven-year-old child unharmed. Curious onlookers lined the street to catch a glimpse of Madikizela-Mandela, accompanied by her customary large security contingent. Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, also spoke to foreign residents who had sought shelter at the Alexandra police station. "I am sorry. It is not all South Africans that are like this," she told the group. Gilbert Sibanda, who was among the displaced residents Madikizela-Mandela spoke to, said he was told the government was trying to sort the problem out and ensure those displaced got their homes back. He said he was beaten up and robbed on Monday evening. Gauteng ANC spokesperson Nkenke Kekana said in a statement yesterday the way the attacks were carried out pointed to an organised grouping. "If you look at these attacks there's a pattern that seeks to destabilise the province. And we cannot allow that, people cannot just attack foreigners," Kekana said.