South Africa – Atteridgeville blocked ahead of anti-immigrant march

Mail and Guardian

Protests erupted in Atteridgeville last year and various vehicles were torched. (AFP)
Protests erupted in Atteridgeville last year and various vehicles were torched. (AFP)

A march against foreign nationals has already led to the shutdown of entrances and exits in Atteridgeville in Pretoria. On Friday morning residents woke up to find the township blockaded by protesters.

Shops owned by foreign nationals have been looted over the past two weeks in Atteridgeville and Mamelodi. The attacks follow the release of a pamphlet by a group known as the Mamelodi Concerned Residents who accuse government and businesses of giving work to foreign nationals and allege that people from other African countries are responsible for crime in the country. The group has been granted permission to march to the home affairs department in Pretoria on Friday morning.

 
 
 

On Tuesday the Gauteng Civic Association announced that various organisations had agreed to “form a coalition against crime, poverty and xenophobia”.

The African Diaspora Forum, the United Front of Johannesburg and the New Trade Union Federation announced on Friday morning that they too would be holding a press conference to present a “united voice of immigrant, community and labour organisations” on the recent outburts of attacks.

Amid doubt that the Mamelodi Concerned Residents would be given the go ahead to march, it was revealed on Wednesday that permission had been granted for the protest to take place. Organisers met with Tshwane Metro officials, and told SABC that they had been given strict conditions to abide by.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) said in a statement on Friday that it expects “scores of people” to march through the streets of Tshwane. The security structure, which is responsible for co-ordinating security and law enforcement operations nationally, has urged for peaceful protests and said that they have deployed security officials to keep an eye on the march. However, in Atteridgeville on Thursday morning, onlookers reported that there was no police presence in the area.

Anyone who experiences hate speech or other kinds of violation may report incidents to the police, the NatJoints said.

“The NATJOINTS also urges any person or group who feel that their rights have been infringed in any manner to report such at their nearest police station and not to take the law into their own hands,” the NatJoints said.

On Thursday Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba sent a series of tweets and a statement condemning xenophobic attacks. The statement comes after Mashaba has faced increasing pressure for linking “illegal” foreign nationals to criminality.

The anti-immigrant march is set to begin at 11am on Friday.

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