More than 300 foreign nationals who were living in Msibi House, a hijacked building in New Doornfontein in Johannesburg, are homeless after they were allegedly forcefully removed by a group claiming to be Operation Dudula members.
Those evicted include children, blind and other disabled residents.
One of the victims, Gertrude Mushipe, said while out on the street, she was called by a neighbour who alerted her to the incident.
“We found a lot of Dudula guys at our place. They were inside our flats and they took everything of ours,” she said.
“There are many people living there, more than 300. We live with some disabled people, small children and babies. When they came into our place they destroyed everything. They took everything. They beat us and we ran away. We went outside and left them inside. They came out holding our bags.”
The mother of one said she felt humiliated. She is now battling to find a place for herself and her six-year-old child, who witnessed the incident.
“Christmas is coming. We don’t have money. We don’t have any clothes and even our babies are suffering. We are sitting outside, we don’t know what to do.”
Susan Tasarirabona, who had also lived in the building, said the building’s residents were all Zimbabwean nationals.
She said they received a call to return home while at work.
“They said ‘come, we have a big problem — Dudula people have come’. When they came, they started beating everybody and told them to get their things out. They beat this other disabled woman and threatened to rape her,” Tasarirabona alleged.
“When they took out our things, we went to the park and they came back again at night and started beating us and taking our money, blankets, everything,” she said.
Tasarirabona said they went to the police to report the matter, but alleged they were denied assistance.
Police spokesperson, Col Noxolo Khweza said they were not aware of the incident.
The African Diaspora Workers Network (ADWN) has stepped in to assist the victims. Organisation chairperson Dr Janet Munakamwe said they had to try to find temporary accommodation on Monday night for the group, as it was raining.
She said the price of available accommodation shot up to about R2 500 per room.
“Because of their vulnerability … they are struggling to even raise money for their daily upkeep. We had no options. We ended up having to absorb everyone because the security at the park was threatening to unleash water cannons if anyone was still remained there,” she said.
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