Malawians living in Durban’s Burnwood settlement living in fear | - South Africa News

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Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA).
Durban – Some of the hundreds of Malawians chased from their homes during recent xenophobic attacks have begun returning to them, but say they do not feel safe despite assurances from the authorities.

Mussa Handiwotch, who lives in the Burnwood informal settlement, said he, his wife and child had stayed at the Sydenham police station for four days after the attack.

“I have been looking for other places to live, but the rent is just too much. I am only back here because of the rent,” he said.

Handiwotch said he feared they would be attacked again as he had heard rumours of another attack.

“No one has told me to my face that they don’t want us here, but I have heard talk. I want to continue living in South Africa; not all South Africans are bad,” he said.

Handiwotch pays R850 rent for the shack he shares with his wife and toddler at Burnwood.

“At other places the rent is more than R1000, and I can’t afford that,” said the plumber and electrician.

His neighbour, Rico Miraji, also a Malawian, said he wanted to leave South Africa and go back home.

“I am looking for help to get back home because I don’t want live here anymore, but I can’t afford rent anywhere else. What I saw on that day they were chasing us out was not good at all; I don’t feel safe,” he said.

Qondiswa Mashonga, a South African who has lived in Burnwood for more than 20 years, said the attack made no sense to her as most residents had no qualms about foreigners living in the area.

“We have heard of no further threats of violence being made. We have lived side by side for many years here,” she said.

Meanwhile, members of NGO Xenowatch have arrived in Durban to gather more details about the attacks.

A spokesperson said a task team had been put together to deal with the issue.

“The visit is to get an in-depth understanding of what is happening on the ground,” said the spokesperson, who would not be named. She added that there was a misunderstanding of what had happened.

“To classify these acts as criminal when one group or certain population was being targeted is not right,” she said.

EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said about 300 foreigners had been displaced in the Burnwood area. Of these, 200 had been reintegrated into their communities.

“About 80 to 90 asked for help to go back home. I am not sure how far this process has gone,” he said.

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