Upsurge of Xenophobic Violence in Pretoria

By Dorothy Mabelebele, Searatoa Van Driel and GroundUp

On 24 February 2017 an anti-immigrant march took place in Pretoria. The march was organised by Mamelodi Concerned Residents, with other Pretoria residents, who marched to Pretoria Home Affairs offices, where they handed over their memorandum concerning the foreign nationals in their area.

Before the march took place, there were reports of Atteridgeville residents being transported in taxis to areas known to be where African nationals live. A group of anti-immigrant protesters trying to displace immigrants were confronted by police as they attempted to enter a predominantly Somali neighbourhood in Pretoria West. Some of the Somali residents were however well organised and determined to stand their ground, leading to violent clashes. A large contingent of police was present and they separated the groups, releasing stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Later that day, in Pretoria West, South African Police Service (SAPS) acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane held a media briefing about the xenophobia violence that took place in different areas in Pretoria. “We are all aware that today a march took place. This march followed the arrest of 156 people, both South Africans and African Nationals,” said Phahlane. “A case of damage of property, stoning of police vehicles and looting was opened today,” he continued.

People from Marabastad in Pretoria explained to the police the problems they face in their areas, with drugs and prostitution. They also said that some of the SAPS officers are working with those drug dealers. Phahlane said in response that the community have to bring proof of this so that these officers can be arrested.

In the media briefing, Phahlane thanked the law inforcement officers for maintaining peace during the Xenophobia violence. “SAPS will not tolerate this action of violence and those who started this will be brought to book and they will face the law.”

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