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‘South Africa is no longer safe’ – say Zimbabweans kicked out of building by Dudula activists; women, children, blind and disabled left homeless

Abel Bura, 43, who is partially blind, said when the incident occurred, he was in Kempton Park and quickly returned after receiving a call from his friends who stayed with him at the flats.

“When I arrived I saw people outside the flat with their goods.Some of the goods were thrown away. When I got inside, it was ransacked and my passport was taken,” he said.

The father of five said he arrived in South Africa in 2010 looking for greener pastures because of the abject poverty in his home country.

Each year he would save money for his wife and children and buy groceries to take home during the festive season.

Now without his passport, and all the money he kept inside the house allegedly stolen, he doesn’t know how he will start a new life.

He said when they were sleeping in the park, a group of people allegedly from Jeppestown flats and affiliated with Dudula, arrived and told them to go back to their home country.

He said the past few days had been a struggle.

He added that the situation in Zimbabwe was not good, but living in South Africa was no longer safe for foreigners and he feared for his life. “We are now living in fear and without knowing what will happen next.”

Sowetan’s sister publication TimesLIVE approached officials of Operation Dudula about the incident. The group responded with a voice note by national deputy chairperson Dan Radebe announcing a suspension of operations from midnight on December 16.

“Operation Dudula will be going into a recession which means therefore suspending all the operations and the activities of Operation Dudula for the purpose of giving our members and supporters an opportunity to have this festive season with family and their loved ones, and those who will be travelling long distances.

“Anyone who will engage in any activity during this period, will be outside Dudula’s mandate, up until Dudula returns to full activity on January 4 2023. We are therefore requesting all our members to enjoy … Let’s refrain from confrontations. Let’s refrain from operations that were not authorised by Operation Dudula,” Radebe said.

Ethel Musonza, chairperson of Zimbabwe Isolated Women in South Africa (Ziwisa),  said some of the residents who lived in the flats didn’t have documents.

Some of the documents, such as the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP), had expired and the asylum seekers wanted to return home to renew them, she said.

Without documents people had to keep money in their homes as they couldn’t open bank accounts.

Musonza thanked Dr Janet Munakamwe, chairperson of the African Diaspora Workers Network (ADWN), who stepped in to assist the victims.

She said some residents had moved in with relatives and others had found temporary accommodation at other flats, for which they had to pay.

Police spokesperson Col Noxolo Khweza told TimesLIVE on Tuesday they were not aware of the incident.

“However we are appealing to the community to come forward so we can look into this matter. Any of our members who are found to have acted unlawfully will be dealt with,” she said.

On Wednesday evening she said she didn’t know of any people who had come forward.

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