Zimbos caught up in Xenophobic crossfire

Some Zimbabweans have been caught up in the crossfire of xenophobic attacks that have flared up in the Springfield, Kenville area in Durban.

Zimbos caught up in Xenophobic crossfire

A mob of protesters burst into the homes of foreign nationals, moving door to door and seizing belongings, from beds and TV sets to pots and baskets, before targeting foreign-operated shops.

Daily Maverick spoke to Temba Sibanda who was holed up in his home in Benwood Road, Sydenham in Durban, too afraid to go outside to use the bathroom, let alone go to work.

The Zimbabwean national, who has been in the country for four years, escaped falling victim to a marauding mob in the early hours of Monday by hiding away.

More than 24 hours later Sibanda still would not set foot outside, fearful of being caught and injured by the mob.

“They knocked on my door and I didn’t answer. I can’t even go out to pee, I’m using a bucket,” he says, speaking softly over the phone, careful not to make any detectable noise fearing it may attract the mob.

He says the about 100-strong mob entered their rooms, chased people out and grabbed their goods. At about 6am on Monday the mob moved to the shops, which were about to open.

“I heard gunshots and went out to look. Then I saw a Somali guy shooting with a gun upwards to scare the Zulu men,” he said.

Agatha Marutsi, a domestic worker from Zimbabwe, said her brother and sister-in-law were attacked on Monday when their home was surrounded and broken into.

She said the protesters took all their belongings including beds, clothes, money and cellphones, leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

“They were saying ‘we want cash and money, you are taking our jobs,’ ” she said.

She was terrified and alerted the police, who arrived hours later. Marutsi says people were attacked with sticks and metal rods.

She says they were advised by the police to temporarily evacuate the area and move to nearby relatives or friends.

Marutsi’s employer Andrea Watson said that prior to the attacks a warning had been posted on Facebook about a service delivery protest, but she later learnt of alleged disputes between local residents and foreign nationals over jobs.

“A lot of what is happening is also an excuse for criminal looting,” Watson said.

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