A new wave of xenophobic attacks have begun in South Africa as Nigerians were attacked in Rosettenville, a suburb in Johannesburg.
The attacks had been inflamed by the comments of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, who said Nigerians were to blame for the rise of drug use and prostitution in the area.
Mashaba had said: “According to community members, these homes are illegally occupied by Nigerian foreign nationals who run the homes as brothels and have girls as young as nine years old working as prostitutes. Many of the women in these brothels are also alleged to have no official identification documentation.”
Two houses and a nightclub owned by Nigerians were set ablaze in the attacks.
The owner of the club, Maxwell Izumbu, said of the allegations: “It’s lies, there aren’t any drugs being sold here. I’ve been here for so long and this is the first time they attacked my club and it’s only Nigerians being attacked. The [sports bar] upstairs was also open but they didn’t touch it because it’s owned by a South African. So I can say it’s xenophobia. Nigerians are under siege here.”
The leader of the attacks, Simphiwe Hlafa, said to Mail & Guardian: “We stood up for ourselves and decided to do something about it. The community is doing things for itself. We never burnt any property, so to speak. We cleaned it, that’s how we view it. We cleaned the very same property that’s used as a brothel,” Hlafa said.
The Nigerians in the community are naturally upset and are said to be preparing themselves for any future attacks.
Hlafa said in response to this: “If they become violent and try to kill one of us; we are going to go for them…
“We know where their children go to school, we know where their wives are running their salons, we know where their churches are, the Nigerians. So we are not worried about that [threat],” he said.
A protest also took place in nearby Mamelodi, over the influx of Zimbabweans and Pakistani, and how they were stealing their jobs.