Foreigners, but also the poorest, are targeted by deadly attacks since early September.

By Jean-Philippe Rémy Posted today at 12h12, updated at 12h26

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In Katlehong Community Center, South Africa, where victims are housed, 9 September
In Katlehong Community Center (South Africa), where victims are housed, 9 September MICHELE SPATARI / AFP

She tightens the sides of her little coat in synthetic white fur, tarnished by the nights spent on the ground, and clings firmly to her plastic chair. A rare commodity in the Great Hall of the Katlehong Community Center, about 30 kilometers southeast of Johannesburg. Like hundreds of other people, Tinotenda Tamagi has taken refuge in this vast building since, Wednesday, September 4, men "With machetes, clubs and firing shots" have broken down the door of his Mukuku (precarious housing), insulted her, pushed her out, seizing all her possessions, except for the clothes she hastily put on, including her precious cloak.

Read also In South Africa, at least one dead during new xenophobic riots

Tinotenda Tamagi fled to the community center, where the central showroom, with bleachers and a bare stage, would now serve as a refuge for dozens of families. Since then, she has not come out. Tinotenda Tamagi is Zimbabwean. She came to South Africa "Looking for greener pastures", a euphemism to say that she fled a country whose economy no longer makes it possible to survive. This quest, now, seems to come up against a new wall, that of violence.

Like her Mozambican neighbor, Oscar, she ended up in Mandela, a slum where the poorest of Katlehong's poor live, in one of the poorest townships in the country. During the days when the wave of violence fell on Mandela, the "Strangers" were targeted: Zimbabweans, Malawians, Mozambicans. Behind, they say that everything burned.


At the community center, there are some mattresses saved from the parish, garbage bags with clothes, two bicycles. Children run, pregnant women ask to be given one of the few chairs. The authorities are there, from the social services to the officials of the Ministry of the Interior, who zealously record everyone. Separated into two groups according to nationalities, more than 800 people will be placed in front of the possibility of leaving South Africa.

Buses should arrive soon to take those who wish to Mozambique. Oscar will ride in it. "For now, it's not mandatory" William Ntladi, an official of the municipality, promises it. But evictions of undocumented migrants should not be delayed. Ten thousand of them were returned to their country in the first half of the year, Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said.


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