Xenophobia in SA

Xenophobic attacks leave Zim children stranded

Southern Eye

15 April 2015

(Photo added):  Foreign nationals sheltering in a tent eat a meal provided by members of the community in Isipingo, south of Durban (Rogan Ward/Reuters)

Zimbabweans caught up in xenophobic attacks in South Africa have been telling their stories to the media despite Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi’s (pictured) claiming that they had not been affected.

Mohadi told Southern Eye that he was not aware of Zimbabweans caught up in the violence after he was quizzed about the government’s response to the attacks.

But some locals are said to be among hundreds of foreigners whose children could no longer go to school because of the violence.

“We left everything when we fled; our lives became the foremost priority and one didn’t think to grab a school bag or uniform. But it’s all gone now because our homes have since been looted,” Abias Chazike said.

Chazike is a father of four with two children enrolled at Brooklyn Heights Primary School and three-year-old twins attending a local preschool.

“Even if we get assistance with the uniforms, books and transport there’s still the issue of how safe they would be travelling from here to the school,” he said.

“I’m also worried that they might be victimised and called names by the children they go to school with.”

Zimbabwean Ogreth Ngwenya said they were taking their children back to their home countries, which would negatively affect their education.

They said their children were born in South Africa and not familiar with the languages in other African countries.

Another Zimbabwean, Paul Chikaanhadzi, said it saddened him to see his little girl, Andinakho (5), sitting idly at the camp when she could have been enjoying her time with friends at school.

“Children are very smart; they know that they should have been at school today. On top of missing home, they are now missing out on a part of their childhood,” he said.

The Bottlebrush Community Outreach, a Christian charity organisation running a feeding scheme in Durban, brought stationery to the children at the camp on Monday.

“We’ve been coming here every day to volunteer our services, keep the children occupied and play with them, because there is not much for them to do around the camp,” Marieke Moodley said.

Twenty-two people have been arrested so far in connection with attacks on foreigners and looting of shops in Durban.

“The police operation continues and more could be arrested,” police spokesman Thulani Zwane said.

Attacks started in Isipingo, south of Durban, a week ago and had since spread to KwaMashu, Umlazi and Chatsworth, Zwane added.

It is still not clear how many foreigners have died. − ANA/Staff Reporter






Ultimately the measure of our humanity can be assessed by our openness to the most discomforted in society.

The measure of our faith cannot be divorced from the demands of the poor, irrespective of what that faith may be.

The phenomenon of refugees, whether they be political or economic, is a growing world-wide reality, and not simply an interesting idiosyncrasy in the modern world.

It can be argued that none of us dare imagine that being a refugee is definitely beyond our possible experience.  It is therefore imperative that society begins to interrogate and engage with issues relating to refugees with far greater integrity.

Refugees are not the last agenda on the shopping list of human rights.  They are – and will continue to be – central to the way in which any society views its responsibilities.

For South Africans to imagine that while they are building their economy and growing a new paradigm of governance, refugees can’t be seriously on the agenda, is preposterous.

In fact, it can be argued that if the world did not treat South African refugees as they did, South Africa would not be where it is today.

From the State President to most of the leaders in South Africa, a debt is owed to the world community which must imply a rigorous and faithful response to those who find themselves in the same position at this time.

One cannot imagine that this work will be neat and organised, predictable or profitable.  It involves managing chaos.  It involves desperation, often beyond imagination, and at some level is disruptive of neatly planned diaries.

However, too many refugees hold explosive creativity as a gift to the communities where they find themselves.  Although many have had the superficial priorities stripped from them, they have a focus on and commitment to family and community building that must make a huge contribution to any society.

All too often, all that is needed is a simple meal, a place to wash and sleep, a listening ear and a willingness to go the second mile to give back humanity to this potential place of brokenness.

Bishop Paul Verryn

Methodist Church of Southern Africa


Cell:  082 600 8892

E-mail:  paulverryn@gmail.com

Photo:  Bishop Paul Verryn baptises a baby born to a refugee woman from Zimbabwe.