XENOPHOBIC THUGS ROAM ZANDSPRUIT

Mail & Guardian, 4 October 2000

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According to residents the attack followed a brawl at a shebeen where a Xhosa-speaking man was allegedly shot by a man of Zimbabwean origin.

Other Xhosa-speaking residents then launched "vengeance attacks", severely beating people who do not speak their language, destroying property and burning shacks. South African-born people were also victimised.

Alleta Moyo's shack was petrol-bombed. "I saw it coming. On Friday they pelted my shack with stones. Just when I thought we survived, they struck again on Monday morning and threw petrol-bombs," she said. Moyo and her family escaped without injuries.

She believes she was attacked because she is married to a Zimbabwean, who has lived in South Africa since 1960. "My husband has been in this country since then and I believe he qualifies for citizenship," she says. Her husband - one of the founders of the Zandspruit settlement - is in hospital following a severe beating at the hands of the gang, Moyo says.

"I am shattered, this was not only a home, I also ran a spaza shop. I have nothing left, I mean nothing. These clothes on my back are all I have."

Moyo has reported the arson to the police, but says they told her there is insufficient evidence and they will not be investigating.

There is a widespread feeling at Zandspruit that police are not doing enough to stem the violence. Residents claim officers at Honeydew police station are colluding with the leader of the gang responsible for the attacks on foreigners.

However, a spokesman for the Honeydew police station says: "It is not true that police are colluding with certain individuals, nor is it true that police are taking sides as far as this matter is concerned. We have deployed more policemen in the area on a 24-hour basis to ensure safety and security of the residents.

"Victims are being contacted and possible leads are being followed with a possibility of making arrests. Cases are still under investigation."