SAM Philane, a Mozambican national, was chased from his home in Primrose by a xenophobic mob last week. Now’s he’s living in a displacement camp. But he’s not angry, he just wants to go back to his home in the East Rand.
After hearing that the xenophobic mobs were starting to form in the Primrose area of Germiston, Sam called his girlfriend, Angelina Chiabo, asking her to gather up their valuables for safe keeping. But by the time he got home it was too late, their house had been looted. All they had left was one suit case and a box full of their documents and family pictures.
Thousands of foreign nationals have been displaced since the xenophobic attacks started in Durban three weeks ago. As more attacks have been reported across the country, foreigners have been fleeing for camps in fear for their lives. Many of them have had their possessions stolen or burnt, including their passports and immigration papers. The loss of their document makes them even more vulnerable to attacks from police and civilians.
Philane and his girlfriend fled from their home and initially went to the Primrose displacement camp in Germiston. However, Philane said the conditions there were not good with men, women and children sharing the same tents at the camp. They then moved to a camp in Fordsburg which was set up by NGO Gift of the Givers.
A home away from home
Their temporary home is a small tent with two foam beds neatly made up and clothes stacked on top of a suit case. Philane, a Mozambican national, is adamant that this is only temporary. He has been in South Africa since 2000 and he sees himself as a dual citizen.
“I am not angry,” he said. Nor is he making any arrangements to leave this country. He seemed more concerned about his community, asking what is going to happen to the perpetrators, some of whom he knows personally. He wanted to know if leaders have discussed re-integration plans that will allow both perpetrators and victims back into the community.
Philane believes that the attacks are a result of frustration. He said like everybody else, he goes where the work is but there are not enough jobs for everyone.
He believes that locals struggle to find job because they “want to get paid the same salaries as the people who are educated, while they don’t even have matric.”
Philane adds that South Africans forget that some of their countrymen are also in Mozambique where they too are working as foreigners.
“We all follow the work,”
First published by wits vuvuzela