Xenophobic attacks feared amid violent protests in Pretoria

Tony Ekata, Pretoria

There are fears of renewed xenophobic attacks as violent protests over the ruling party ANC’s mayoral nomination continued overnight in townships around Pretoria.

The ANC’s decision to put forward former minister Thoko Didiza as a mayoral candidate to replace the incumbent in Tshwane Municipality triggered angry protests which escalated on Tuesday.

On Tuesday‚ police officers were called in from other areas to quell the violence that saw at least 20 commercial buses, several cars and trucks burnt‚ businesses ransacked and roads blocked in Atteridgeville‚ Hammanskraal‚ Mamelodi and Garankuwa. 

City of Tshwane spokesman Blessing Manale said all the employees of the offices in Pretoria were released at noon on Tuesday following threats and intimidation.

“People were feeling intimidated due to protests in the area so staff members were released early. We felt that protesters might be heading to the City’s buildings in the CBD so we had to shut down everything for the safety of our staff members.

“Street hawkers also vacated the CBD‚” Manale told newsmen.

No going back

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe however said at a press conference that the ruling party would not reverse its decision to appoint Didiza as a mayoral candidate for Tshwane.

Mantashe said the violent protests in Tshwane were not necessarily related to the appointment of Didiza – despite the fact the protests started shortly after the announcement.

Xenophobia?

Somalian shop owners were targeted overnight in the eastern Pretoria township of Mamelodi as well as Mabopane in the west where a number of shops were broken into and looted as the owners fled for the lives.

The government is calling for calm with Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula declaring that culprits will face the full might of the law.

Incumbent mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa has appealed to Tshwane residents to support the nomination of Didiza and urged criminals to stop taking advantage of the situation to vandalize and loot public and private property.

 

Nnenna.O