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Reintegration plan gathers pace

Resource type: News

Pretoria News (South Africa) |

by LESEGO MASEMOLA Phomolong residents in Mamelodi are ready to welcome displaced foreigners back into their community as part of the Tshwane Metro Council’s reintegration plan. Yesterday, Tshwane mayor Dr Gwen Ramokgopa – in her capacity as convener of the Gauteng Chapter of Progressive Women’s Movement SA – (PWMSA) and other leaders launched sites where 42 shacks will be built for displaced foreigners who have sought refuge at the Stanza Bopape community hall in Mamelodi East. All but five of the 49 displaced foreigners are from Phomolong while the others are from the Alaska settlement. “We agree with council that they must move back. It is not all of us who live in Phomolong who did not want them back. Some of us were not even involved in the violent xenophobic attacks. They are residents of Phomolong too and deserve to live here,” said resident Pauline Matlala. Another resident, Portia Matlala, said the foreigners were helping the community in various ways and since they were driven out, no one in the community had come forward to take on these tasks. “These people were helping the community. We could rely on them to fix things for us like appliances. We did not need to travel too far to get to the nearest spaza shop. So I am happy that they are coming back and we will support them and live with them as part of our community,” she said. Religious leaders together with Ramokgopa and other stakeholders visited the site and blessed it with a prayer. Ramokgopa said Phomolong residents should work hand in hand with the metro council to see to it that foreigners are reintegrated back into the community. “I ask the Phomolong community to acknowledge the displaced foreigners and to welcome them back. As South Africans we should love, protect and take care of them. To those residents who attacked the foreigners, we want them to admit their wrongs and not to repeat these attacks,” she said. Ramokgopa said PWMSA was encouraged by the 1956 women who fought against pass laws, adding that the organisation wanted to fight xenophobia in the same spirit as those women. “Those women back then have inspired PWMSA to fight crime, especially the xenophobia we see. “We want to fight xenophobia like 1956 women, the same way they fought against the pass laws,” she said. To assist in the process of building the shacks Africon consulting engineers donated R11 000 yesterday. Fani Xaba, director of business development at Africon, said the company felt touched by what transpired during the violent xenophobic attacks and felt a social responsibility towards the displaced foreigners. Xaba challenged other businesses to get involved in the reintegration process initiated by the municipality. Ramokgopa said council was hoping that other businesses would also get involved and said the council would match contributions by businesses to realise the reintegration plan. Ward councillor Sarah Kgashane said residents had been prepared for the reintegration process and no harm would come to the foreigners. “At first it was not easy for the residents to accept them back. But through constant meeting with the community they realised it was the right thing to do. We are all children of God and it is not fair to treat others unfairly or to discriminate against them,” she said. Of the 42 shacks, 21 will be handed over to foreigners while 20 shacks will be given to those South Africans in dire need in the settlements. It is not clear when the shacks will be erected.

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