Saturday, May 31, 2008

Community’s xenophobia pledge

A three-week-old baby twin, the youngest person to die since the start of the xenophobic attacks, was buried yesterday.

This has prompted the community of Siyahlala informal settlement near Randfontein on the West Rand to vow that they would never again tolerate xenophobic attacks in their area.

The twin baby boy died when his family was forced to flee and spend the night in the cold in an open veld during last week’s violence.

“Now we say never again,” area councillor Thembi Matuwane said. “We will not accept it.

“It will not happen here again.”

The incident happened last Tuesday night when the temperature dropped to an icy 4 degrees Celsius in Johannesburg.

“It was a bitterly cold night,” said the baby’s mother Celina Fernando Wate. “We fled without our blankets. We panicked.”

Wate, a 28-year-old Mozambican, said though she will never forget what happened she intended to stay in South Africa.

The twins, Siphiwe who died, and Sipho, were born prematurely.

Wate said: “Nothing is going to bring back my child. I’m just glad I did not lose both of them. I have been here for three years and have started a new life for myself.

“I’m deeply hurt by what happened but I know with time I will heal.”

Wate and her family and other foreign nationals have been reintegrated into the community.

“We have not experienced any problems so far and are hoping that things will remain like this for ever,” she said.

Councillor Matuwane said when she heard about the attacks she rushed to find the family.

“When I got there I found the babies and their mother and took them to my place,” Matuwane said. “I realised that the babies were not breathing properly so I took them to the clinic.”

Siphiwe died on Saturday while Sipho survived.

Matuwane said she was happy that the Siyahlala community had come to their senses.

“We are all Africans and belong to this continent.”

She said it was sad to know that the young people were involved the attacks.

“Siphiwe’s death has shed light for the community,” she said.

“They have realised that what they did was wrong.”

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