PASSOP BRANCH LEADER ASSAULTED IN 'XENOPHOBIC ATTACK'

Cape Times, 10 July 2008

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A Zimbabwean member of People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) has been threatened with a firearm in an attack described as "racist and xenophobic". Passop was "angered" by the attack on its Du Noon leader, Cosmos Liyeto, in Amsterdam Road, Brooklyn, on Tuesday, its chairperson, Braam Hanekom said. "The attacker called him a Nigerian, smashed his car windows and pushed a revolver into his chest. This attack was racist and xenophobic." A man has been arrested and appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court yesterday. A shaken Liyeto said the assault took place about 2.30pm. "I had parked in the road and went to visit someone. The streets are narrow, but there was enough space for another vehicle to pass. "When the man's car tried to get past, he hooted, so I went outside to move the car. "The man confronted me and started yelling, saying: 'Why do you want to act like you own Amsterdam Road?' He made derogatory remarks, with lots of swearing." While he was standing at his car, the man reached under his seat, pulled out a revolver and pressed it against his chest, Liyeto said. "He shouted: 'You Nigerians, you want to act like you own the street.' I was traumatised and felt stupid. I couldn't even start the car afterwards." The man had also assaulted him, but he was not injured, Liyeto said. "I kept thinking: 'Why? What did I do to warrant this?' I was completely shocked. I even apologised when he started to hoot when he could not get his car past, but he said, 'You are sorry, but I want you to feel sorry for what you did'." Liyeto filed a complaint at the Maitland police station. Tiisetso Lerutla at the police station confirmed this. "The man went to court this morning. He has been charged with malicious damage to property and pointing a firearm." Meanwhile, Passop has commended the Department of Home Affairs for making a change to the queuing arrangements for asylum-seekers. "The new system allows (such people) to queue at the Department of Home Affairs office in Barrack Street. We are encouraged by the change." Concerns remained, however, about the management of the queue and the huge number of asylum-seekers waiting to apply for refugee status, among other aspects. "Last year, a man died of starvation in the queue after waiting several weeks to be allowed his right to apply for refugee status. (Asylum-seekers) are having to live on the street for weeks as they fear losing their places in the queue."