GOVT: RELOCATION OF DISPLACED FOREIGNERS TO CONTINUE

Mail & Guardian/Sapa, 2 June 2008

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The relocation process of displaced foreign nationals to temporary shelters around Johannesburg will continue, despite complaints by some residents, a government official said on Monday. "This is a temporary measure that will not impact negatively on the areas where foreign nationals are staying," spokesperson for the Gauteng provincial government Thabo Masebe said. On why residents in host communities were not consulted, he said that the decision to relocate the displaced to the ten sites was taken last Friday. "It was not possible for us to consult with residents in areas where tents are being set up because the relocation decision was taken on Friday," said Masebe. He said the recent xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals had been declared a provincial disaster. "The priority at hand is to find shelter for the displaced. Some are employed and children have to go to school. We had to find areas closer to where they lived before," Masebe said. In terms of security, he said all sites were fenced and police and private security services were on patrol both night and day. He also said the land where the temporary shelters have been set up was all government-owned. Democratic Alliance councillor Alan Fuchs said earlier that residents in Corlett Gardens had expressed their frustration at a lack of consultation as the host community. "I am not convinced the government intended to consult with host communities. Consultation is very important; we would like to see local residents accept the displaced and contribute to their well-being," said Fuchs. Ten temporary shelters were expected to be set up in the next few weeks for up to 10 000 foreign nationals displaced by last month's xenophobic attacks that left more than 60 people dead. At least 3 000 foreign nationals were moved from various police stations to Corlett Gardens and Country View in Midrand on Sunday. On Monday, at least 1 000 were expected to be moved from Germiston City Hall to a site near the Rand Airport. Masebe said foreigners currently at Jeppe and Cleveland police stations were expected to be moved to City Deep on Tuesday.