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Barely hours after a national action plan to combat racial discrimination, xenophobia and ethnic intolerance was launched, at least 150 foreign nationals living in an informal settlement in Clare Estate, near Durban, had to grab what they could and run for safety.

A group of men went to the Burnwood Road informal settlement, sought out foreign nationals and told them to leave.

In the pouring rain, the group, including two women with babies, fled to the Sydenham police station.
According to Hassan Sanram of Malawi, they were asleep when they heard loud crashing noises. “We were chased away because we are foreigners. Some of us were hit and kicked and they started breaking our homes,” he said.

Sanram said they were also robbed.

The group said they were told that locals were acting on the instruction of President Cyril Ramaphosa who, during the ANC’s January 8 statement, warned there would be a clampdown on illegal businesses owned by foreigners and those who were in the country illegally.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said anyone using the president’s statements to incite violence was opportunistic and malicious. “He was articulating the position of the governing party that its manifesto says stringent measures must be taken against undocumented immigrants involved in criminal activities in the country or in cross-border crimes,” according to presidential spokesperson police has been deployed to control the situation to restore calm.

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