Foreign nationals living in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, say they live in fear after a Zimbabwean man, Elvis Nyathi, was killed by vigilantes on Wednesday night, just hours after Police Minister Bheki Cele visited Diepsloot.
Bongani Mkhwanazi, a spokesperson for the Zimbabwean community in Diepsloot said he had spoken to Nyathi’s widow, Nomsa Tshuma. Said Mkhwanazi:
When one of our own just pointlessly has lost his life, because he didn’t have proper papers and the assumption was that he had a gun, that is very painful.
The mob whipped his wife, demanding she shows them where the husband kept his gun, a gun he didn’t have.
They eventually demanded R300 to release him, but she only had R50, so they took that. They went on to burn him alive.
We feel the law enforcement is passive on this matter. These vigilante groups have been harassing people for a long time.
Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi, Cele, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and the National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola addressed Diepsloot residents on Friday after days of protests in the Johannesburg township.
Mkhwanazi wanted to speak during the meeting but he was shouted down and chased out of the community centre.
The Zimbabwean left the venue wearing a Johannesburg metro police jacket for safety. He said:
We were invited to that stakeholders’ meeting with the police minister by community leaders from Diepsloot.
We have met them before, I think about three times … We wanted to establish a crime policing forum, and also create a skills development forum.
We tried to address this back and forth of us taking jobs from each other, so we hoped to share skills so that we all have the capacity to take on jobs.
Sitshiwe Mafunga, originally from Zimbabwe, has lived in Diepsloot for the past decade.
She runs a salon and sewing business in Extension 4. Mafunga told GroundUp that the immigrant community in Diepsloot now lives in fear. She said:
I am constantly frightened now, even though I possess legal documents to be here. It is wrong for people to get killed because they come from outside South Africa because we are all Africans and human beings after all.
The police must do their work and arrest criminals. Crime has no nationality as criminals here are also South African.
We are scared now and constantly lock ourselves indoors.