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Protests in S.Africa as Ugandans decry killings


Protests have broken out in the South African city of Durban demonstrating against anti-immigrant violence that has left six people dead.

According to AFP, the xenophobic attacks have now spread to the economic capital of Johannesburg.

Thousands of people marched through Durban on Thursday chanting “Down with xenophobia! A United Africa”, after foreign-owned shops in the Jeppestown area of Johannesburg were attacked overnight.

AFP reports that in the past two weeks, shops and homes owned by Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians and other immigrants in Durban and surrounding townships have been targeted, forcing families to flee to camps protected by armed guards.

National Police Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega, said six male suspects have been arrested for public violence and housebreaking.

Tensions were also reported in Pietermaritzburg city.

Xenophobic violence erupted in Soweto, near Johannesburg where 62 people were killed in 2008 in similar attacks.

South Africa’s economic growth was just 1.5 percent last year and unemployment is at around 25 percent – soaring to over 50 percent among the young.

Ugandans cry out

Although no Ugandan has been killed in the violent attacks on “foreigners”, the Ugandan community in South Africa has cried to the Uganda High Commission for rescue.

Here are some of their messages:

Maggie K Ssebunya: Ugandans studying in South African Institutions are concerned about the current xenophobic attacks that have claimed lives of innocent foreigners. We demand to know what the embassy and government of the Republic of Uganda are doing to protect the rights and lives of their citizens in South Africa.

Julius Peter Moto: It was an unfortunate episode of xenophobic violence in RSA earlier in the week. Many foreign nationals were killed. So far, no Ugandan has been killed but the fear is there. The most affected province is Kwa Zulu Natal, notably Durban City. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Okello Oryem indicated that if the situation worsens, Ugandans will be evacuated. As an Embassy, we are working with the group of African Ambassadors in South Africa to engage Government of South Africa to bring the situation to a halt. As of todate, the violence has stopped in KZN and there are sufficient Police presence in Johannesburg areas.

Maggie K Ssebunya: Am in Kwazulu Natal at UKZN. We have received messages this morning that there is a plan to attack foreigners in universities. We need police presence at the universities because the Risk Management Services (RMS) may get overwhelmed.

But lets hope that the engagement between the diplomatic missions and the RSA government will yield positive results asap.

Lucia Nomozzi: Hi, I leave in Durban South Africa, Unfortunately I lost the passports of my son and I due to xenophobic attacks.

We are still under attack. And lost literary everything. What will I need to do to obtain new passports?

Emile Jansen van Rensburg: I applied for visas on Friday last week and have not heard back from you and there is no answer on the phone line. How can I track the progress?

The government and Ugandan consulate are yet to speak on the matter.

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