Was the calm in Alexandra on Tuesday the calm before the storm after locals told foreign nationals to leave or get killed?
There was a heavy police presence at the containers in front of the Pan Africa Mall, where a group of Alexandra residents, known as the Dudula Movement, had clashed with foreign nationals the previous day. A group of angry residents gathered at the containers said the tension in Alex was bad.
“I cannot work, I don’t get hired anywhere and I have children to feed,” one said.
“I need a space to come and sell. Now they don’t want us to sell here, they say they have been here for long.
“Where are they coming from? I think they should go back to their own country.”
The resident said there were a lot of Mozambicans in the area. When they started unpacking their merchandise on Monday morning, the foreigners threw rocks at them.
“Foreigners must go, we want our place back, people are going to die here. I’m not playing,” another angry resident said.
Ashi ul-Haq owns a cellphone shop nearby and said he had to close when the clash broke out.
“I can’t go, I have worked here for 26 years. I have nowhere else to go, this is my home,” he said.
Dudula Movement member Wendy Sithole said: “There’s too much risk living here. On Monday, the foreigners started beating us, some landed in the hospital and were injured.”
She said she was unhappy about the attack on members of the movement and “three weeks ago, a child was raped by a Zimbabwean. I am not happy about that or foreigners”.
She said only foreigners worked at the Debonairs Pizza and there were allegedly 200 foreigners working at the gambling shop which had a sign on the door, “No work – busy retrenching”.
Sithole sells cigarettes on the street corner to provide food for her five children. “If I go to Shoprite and ask for a job, they will tell me there is no job,” she said.
“Look at all these mamas here, they are all looking for a job and they tell us we are too old for a job.” Sithole said the government needed to give them their land back.
“We are the voters,” she said. Sibongile Koloane said she had been selling buckets in Alexandra since 1988.
“I’m not a foreigner, I’m a South African, but the Dudulas came to close the containers. I don’t know why,” she said.
“They are not renting out the containers yet because it’s not finished, because there is no electricity and no water.”
There had been tension between factions for three weeks. She said the violence started with the Dudula Movement.
“Dudulas did not hit the foreigners only, they hit all of us,” she said.
A local business owner who agreed to speak anonymously, said he was approached about two weeks ago by the Dudula Movement, which wanted his documents to see if he was a foreigner.
“They started coming more regularly to check and recently removed foreign nationals who were selling goods outside the containers,” he said.
“The foreign nations are angry because they have gone three weeks without eating or any sales and want to go home now,” he added.