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Nigerians’ houses burnt in South Africa

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Angry residents in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg, have burnt 15 houses either belonging to or being rented by foreign nationals, claiming immigrants had turned the neighbourhood into a drug haven.

Some shops belonging to foreign nationals in the area were also looted.

South African residents in the area claim Nigerians had illegally taken over most properties and turned them into drug and prostitution dens.

The African Diaspora Forum (ADM) chairperson, Mr Marc Gbaffou, confirmed the attacks and blamed Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, for his inflammatory comments.

Illegal immigrants

Early last December, Mr Mashaba told a media conference that illegal immigrants got there criminally and should be treated as such. On Friday, he visited Rosettenville where he made claims that foreign nationals were using girls as young as nine as prostitutes in ‘drug houses’.

“According to community members, these homes are illegally occupied by Nigerian foreign nationals who run the homes as brothels and have girls as young as nine years old working as prostitutes. Many of the women in these brothels are also alleged to have no official identification documentation,” said Mr Mashaba.

Mr Gbaffou said it was reckless for the mayor to make such a statement without proof.

Propaganda of hatred

“What proof does he have that foreigners are running these brothels? His remarks are very inflammatory, and it makes no difference that he has diverted from illegal immigrants to drug peddling. It is very dangerous and we see it as propaganda of hatred,” he said.

A community leader, Mr Andile Tshem, called on residents to desist from violence, adding that it was high time law enforcement agents took action against criminals.

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“We don’t encourage this at all, you cannot correct a wrong with another wrong. South African people must not be living on the streets when foreigners are using houses as brothels,” he said.

Police have arrested a man found in one of the houses that were set alight in Rosettenville.

The suspect, who is expected to be charged with arson and public violence, will appear in court on Monday.

Criminal activities

Police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said security personnel had been deployed to the area.

“The deployment was made from various police who will continue to monitor and trying to trace those who were involved in these criminal activities,” he said.

A Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC), Mr Michael Sun, also condemned the burning of houses.

“Whilst the City is stepping up its efforts in the eradication of crime in Joburg, it will take the cooperation of the residents to make it happen. As much as we are all in the fight against crime, we simply cannot allow for the residents to take the law into their own hand and risk the safety of innocent bystanders,” Mr Sun said.

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