South Africa 15.4.2015 03:44 pm

Durban CBD remains tense following xeno attacks

FILE PICTURE: A number of foreign nationals stand outside the police station on Yusuf Dadoo street [Broad street] as they seek protection from the attacks in the city of Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

FILE PICTURE: A number of foreign nationals stand outside the police station on Yusuf Dadoo street [Broad street] as they seek protection from the attacks in the city of Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

The situation in the Durban Central Business District (CBD) – which on Tuesday was brought to a standstill following confrontations between a gang of looters, foreign nationals and the police, on Tuesday remained tense with strong police presence and groups of foreign nationals in defensive positions.

Foreign nationals, many of whom did not open their businesses following Tuesday’s xenophobic attacks accompanied by looting, gathered in groups along Russell, Pixley ka Seme and Mahatma Gandhi Streets in anticipation of further attacks. “We have not seen anything today (Tuesday) but should they come then we are ready for them,” Emmanuel Joseph, a Nigerian national, who runs an internet café business on Mahatma Gandhi Street said.

“We are businesspeople and not fighters. But these people are forcing us to close our businesses and engage in street fights – we don’t like that as we are already losing a lot of money.”

The Durban Workshop flea market, where foreigners had been trading, was deserted, with most foreign-owned shops around the CBD closed.

Police, some on motor bikes and others in Nyalas, had kept a watchful eye on the situation following Tuesday’s chaos that saw several shops in the CBD shutting their doors. The violence, which initially had been restricted to Durban’s surrounding townships such as Umlazi and Kwamashu, on Tuesday spread to the Durban CBD. According to the eThekwini Municipality, the violence has so far claimed four lives, left several injured and more than 2000 displaced.

KwaZulu –Natal spokesperson, Colonel Jay Naicker, said the situation had been calm throughout Tuesday.

“Some of the shops are closed today and the situation is calm. No incidents have been reported today,” he said.

While KZN Premier, Senzo Mchunu, blamed criminals for the attacks and looting that began in Isipingo, south of Durban, three weeks ago, violence monitor Mary de Haas said the sporadic nature in which the violence erupted suggested a well organised force was behind the chaos.

“People on the ground have been telling me that they had spotted people driving expensive cars during the attacks -this suggests that there is something bigger behind these attacks – I do not think it has anything to do with xenophobia,” she said.

Meanwhile, a government delegation that included State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and eThekwini Mayor, James Nxumalo, on Tuesday visited several xenophobia hotspots around Durban.

An anti-xenophobia protest march organised by the KZN provincial government in conjunction with foreign nationals and civil organisations will take place in the City on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Violence strikes Durban CBD again

 

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