Friday, July 25, 2008

100s of refugees left stranded

If this ANC government was under the impression that the so called xenophobia incidents were now in the past and everything is once again rosy in this rainbow nation, they are sadly mistaken.

This illegal immigration situation is still in its infancy and we are stuck with the consequences for many moons to come.

These immigrants had established themselves throughout the country with the intention of bettering their lives. The vast majority were employed in jobs that South Africans deemed inferior.

Many others had set up shop within the local communities providing much needed services and products that were previously only available by an additional expense and inconvenience of a Taxi ride.

Out of pure greed and thuggery these shops were looted and soon the mob mentality kicked in which led to this national incident and the subsequent loss of life. These same hard working folk had lost all of their meagre possessions and have now become a burden on the state and local authorities.

The ANC government has been advocating the creation of thousands of jobs for the upcoming FIFA 2010, coupled with the ever downward spiral of the surrounding economies the influx of immigrants will not for the foreseeable future, subside.

These thugs and their communities will however pay the price in the meantime as these immigrants are now housed and fed from the same scarce resources. These same camps will no doubt encourage new immigrants who now see that they are guaranteed shelter food and basic care upon their arrival without the burden of actually getting a job.

Johannesburg - The Mogale City municipality on Friday was trying to arrange accommodation for the hundreds of people milling around outside Lindela on the West Rand saying they had nowhere to go.

"We have all agreed, this is about human beings sleeping on the side of the road, a national road, and it is wrong," said Bongani Gaeje, a spokesperson for the municipality.

"We are trying to agree to get them to move to a place of shelter," he said. A number of sites had been identified and representatives of the group had gone with officials to inspect them. Gaeje said they were "quite excited".

The centres were near Randfontein, a mining and industrial town about an hour's drive from Johannesburg. However, on consultation with the rest of the group, the idea was rejected. They had left the line of dialogue open, and were hoping to come to an agreement with those stranded.

"We can't have children of two, five years, standing on the side of the road," said Gaeje. Gaeje said when they heard reports of people sleeping on the side of the road, they went to take a look.

Private and government organisations came to provide water, food, sanitation, baby supplies as well as a mobile clinic. They were among the people taken from the Glenanda xenophobia shelter on Tuesday to Lindela, a facility which detained foreigners believed to be in the country illegally, then either released or deported them.

The Department of Home Affairs had validated the documents that allowed them residence in South Africa and believed the people were no longer their responsibility. They are "on their own", said spokesperson Cleo Mosana, adding that those without papers could be deported.

A man who called himself John-John from the Democratic Republic of Congo said when people left the Glenanda shelter, they did so because they thought they would immediately be sent back to their home countries. "We are ready to be deported back to our home countries," he said.

However ,when they arrived at Lindela, west of Johannesburg, they were made to stay in cells. Many refused to do so. "We are not criminals. We have got our papers. You government don't have the right to arrest and put us in Lindela."

He was part of a group who refused to register for documents which would have allowed them to stay in the country for six months and to remain in the camp until it closed. They feared these would cancel residence rights they had already secured, although the government had said this would not happen.

Others said they did not understand instructions given to them at the time. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in South Africa said she personally explained their options in three different languages.

John-John said they were not given any food at Lindela and when they tried to get a policeman to buy them some bread he was stopped from doing so. He said people could not go back to their old neighbourhoods because they had nothing left there. Most had been renting rooms.

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