Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hearts and homes open to refugees

South Africans demonstrate compassion that you will not get from the South African gubbermunt for the plight of foreigners.

This is a gubbermunt that refuses to set up refugee camps for foreigners being attacked so it is up to ordinary South Africans to take matters into their own hands and show kindness and humanity.

So much for 'ubuntu' from the useless SA gubbermunt.

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Scores of Capetonians, aghast at the unfolding xenophobic drama playing out across the country, have opened their homes and their hearts to desperate refugees.

With thousands of people on the move after being forced out of their homes in the townships, the provincial and city government, NGOs, churches, mosques and ordinary people sprang into action on Saturday. Relief organisations are still appealing for help, with volunteers, food, toiletries and nappies high on the list.

A number of chain stores have placed donation trolleys in their shops and even more have given substantial cash donations to organisations. Over the past two days they have distributed thousands of plates of food and soup, blankets and other essentials.

On Saturday MEC for Community Safety Leonard Ramatlakane received 3 000 blankets which will be distributed.

Di Davis, a film director from Noordhoek, said she could not believe it when she saw people walking down the main road on Saturday carrying all their belongings with them.

"Some had small babies. They told me they were going to sleep in the bush."

She was one of hundreds of residents across the city who accommodated refugees in their own homes. Davis and her family also helped co-ordinate a relief effort by collecting food, clothes and blankets.

On Saturday the items were being sorted at the Ocean View police station before being taken to Soetwater, where a number of marquees have been erected to accommodate fleeing refugees from all over the city.

Bronwyn Smith, from Kommetjie, along with others in her street, made sandwiches and collected blankets for people forced to flee Masiphumelele on Friday night.

She said one of her neighbours had more than 100 people at her house and was trying to find them accommodation.

"Everyone got involved. It was the most humbling experience. People arrived with bakkies to take refugees to churches where others were making soup."

Smith said it was awful to see people so scared and hungry. "Most had all their worldly possessions in a black bag."

Councillor Felicity Purchase said they provided transport for people who needed to get to work. There was also medical assistance available.

Outside the Central Cape Town police station at Caledon Square, hundreds of refugees spent a cold night on Friday. Abeeda Adams and her family made enough soup for hundreds of people and bought boxes of loaves of bread. On hearing of the plight of three Burundian women with tiny babies, Amien Jacobs of Sanzaf went to buy nappies, wet wipes and had a pharmacist prepare bottles of milk. Muslim Judicial Council spokesperson Ghairunisa
Johnstone-Adams said they had worked throughout the night to get help to as many people as possible.

"All the mosques are on standby, the number of people coming for help is growing."

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