[QODLink]
Africa
Migrant workers at risk in S Africa
At least 2,000 Zimbabweans seek refuge in rugby stadium after their shacks are levelled.
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2009 14:16 GMT


Zimbabwean migrant workers are facing locals' wrath, Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa reports from South Africa

Zimbabwean migrants in search of employment in South Africa are facing persecution at the hands of local people who are blaming them for taking their jobs.

The persecution, which forced about 2,000 migrants to seek refuge in a rugby stadium, began on Tuesday when the migrants' shacks in a farming community in De Doorns were levelled.

Local residents say they are tired of competing with Zimbabweans for space and jobs.

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from De Doorns, said the residents want farmers to hire workers from neighbouring towns like Rainsburg a few kilometres away.

'Horrific attacks'

Many of those displaced came from a squatter camp and they left after they lost everything, our correspondent reported.

in depth

  Video: Migrant workers anger S Africans
  Video: Xenophobia in South Africa
  South Africa's uncompromising words
  The effect of unemployment on crime

"Some of the attacks are just so horrific [that] whole houses have been razed to the ground," she said.

Last year violence unleashed on migrants on the outskirts of Johannesburg, the commercial centre, left at least 62 people dead, forcing the UN refugee agency to move many migrants into relief camps.

Aid groups have dubbed Tuesday's attacks xenophobia, but government officials say it is a labour matter that local farmers shouldn’t favour one nationality over another.

Manfred van Rooyen, a local official, said migrants from other countries had not been targeted.

"This is not per say xenophobia - we also have other people from Lesotho and other parts of Africa that live in De Doorns and they are not being affected," he said.

But Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said: "This is the first xenophobic attack affecting refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa since the countrywide violence in May 2008."

No quick fix

Ntombi Mcoyi, of Africa Unite, an organisation that works with migrant communities in Cape Town, said the government was getting "resources of survival" to the people.

A spate of violence over jobs has displaced at least 2,000 Zimbabwean migrants
But she said "it is not a situation that can be resolved overnight or in a couple of months".

"What's happened is not just about foreign nationals moving to South Africa," Mcoyi told Al Jazeera.

"But it's also the need of South Africans that have not been met over the years."

She said South Africa is still going through a "lot of poverty, high unemployment in the communities".

"There's a lot of ill-feeling of South Africans in the local communities of their needs not being met ... That's being transferred as anger to foreign national communities," Mcoyi said.

"Alot of promises were made to South African people post-1994 [when South Africa held its first ever multi-racial elections].

"People expected to get a lot and gain a lot. This hasn't happened and now with the influx of foreign people."

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.
Taipei has sided with Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters as relations with Beijing continue downward spiral.
Some say they've 'lost everything' after a toxic spill in August, which was followed by leaks caused by heavy rain.
Many orphanages ignore government orders or operate under the radar, and there are only four inspectors nationwide.
Palestinian citizens of Israel are blocked from living in Jewish communities for lacking 'Zionist vision'.