Fictitious social media posts instilled fear of xenophobic attacks in Pietermaritzburg over the past week. This came after two Congolese men were subjected to an attack in Howick, outside KwaZulu-Natal’s capital on the weekend. The two men were saved by local taxi drivers who, according to reports, said “there’s no place for xenophobia in Howick”.
A fear of xenophobic attacks spread through parts of Pietermaritzburg this week because of social media reports which claimed two foreign nationals were “brutally” murdered along with a picture of a dead man. The reports though were incorrect.
Instead local residents were responsible for preventing an attack on two Congolese men as they shopped in Pietermaritzburg. On Saturday, Morisho Hamissi and Mukobwa Gilbert, were attacked by a man who wielded a spanner at a shop.
The men say they were rescued by local taxi drivers who told the attacker,“there is no place for xenophobia in Howick” according to local media reports.
“I was going to buy food at Chicken Palace when I heard people murmuring about foreigners,” Hamissi told reporters. “Then they started shouting at me. Suddenly a man came in wielding a spanner and started to attack me. ”
Hamissi reportedly said he was grateful for the locals support. When the attacker’s family learned of the incident, they allegedly rushed over to the foreign nationals’ house and apologised, according to local media reports.
In media reports, Moses Kilozo, another Congolese national, said this was not the first time foreigners were victimised and targeted.
He added that they have regularly been subjected to insults from locals.
- Foreign students complain of unfair treament, April 2015.
- Youth league marches against xenophobia, April 2015.
- Witsies say ‘no!’ to xenophobia, April 2015.
This article first appeared in Wits Vuvuzela, April 2015.