ANC Daily News Briefing/Sapa, 22 January 2008

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Frightened foreigners in Soshanguve South, Pretoria, are moving out of the area fearing for their lives following a spate of violent attacks on Mozambican and Zimbabwean nationals, the Sowetan reported on Tuesday. Several businesses belonging to foreigners have been looted and their shacks destroyed by residents who accuse them of being behind crime in the area. Four people - two foreigners and two locals - have since died and several people have been injured in the violence which started a month ago. Police spokesman Captain Solly Marindi confirmed that two residents aged 45 and 17 were killed on Friday night at extension 5 and extension 4 respectively in what residents believe was a revenge attack by foreigners. Zimbabwean spaza shop owner, John Dludlu told the newspaper that he watched helplessly last Saturday as a group of residents looted his shack and business, taking electrical appliances, power tools and stock worth R9000. "I was so scared I just stood there as they looted and destroyed my property. I realise that the situation would not get any better so I sent my wife and children back home to Zimbabwe. "I have also moved out of the area. If they do not want us here anymore, they should at least give us time to move out instead of killing us and destroying our belongings," Dludlu told the newspaper. Dludlu said the problem started when four foreigners broke into a spaza shop owned by a Soshanguve resident. He said residents apprehended and necklaced one of the suspects. Ward councillor Mpho Lamola was quoted as saying that a meeting with the community was held on Sunday where residents were asked not to resort to violence when trying to sort out their problems. "We have also approached the Department of Home Affairs to educate people about the status of immigrants. Residents feel that illegal immigrants are responsible for crime in the area because they are untraceable," said Lamola. Captain Marindi said police will continue to hold meetings with residents in an attempt to bring calm to the area. Nineteen residents were arrested and charged with public violence on January 13. They were expected to appear in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, the Sowetan said.