site-wide search

South Africa: Police detains 450 foreigners, mostly ‘illegal’ foreign nationals


SomaNet News Archive

(By Bonny Apunyu)

At least two people were arrested and 470- mostly undocumented foreign nationals-are being detained by South Africa’s Home Affairs Ministry in a nearby prison.

This follows a raid by South African police and soldiers on Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, known for sheltering displaced foreigners, during the early hours of Friday morning.

According to VOA, in the sun rise of Friday morning in Johannesburg, hordes of heavily armed South African police and army units arrived to raid the church. The illegal foreign nationals were carted off in armored vans.  The detainees are now waiting to be "processed."

The South African  police reportedly entered the church shouting obscenities, calling people "kwekwerere" - a derogatory term for foreigner - according to Lizzy Mambu, who has stayed at the church since she fled Zimbabwe several years ago.

This comes in the wake of xenophobic attacks last month in which atleast 6 people were killed and several other wounded. Thousands fled to temporary shelters, with aid group Gift of Givers saying about 8,500 people were hiding in refugee centers or police stations  because of the violence. The number did not include those who have moved in with friends or relatives.

In the past, Johannesburg has been the epicenter of anti-immigrant tensions. BBC says in 2008, dozens were killed in attacksin the poorest areas of Johannesburg. Most of the victims were Zimbabweans who had fled repression and dire economic circumstances. In those attacks, police arrested more than 200 people on various charges, including rape, murder, robbery and theft.(Agencies)