Ook in Masiphumele sloeg de xenofobie toe, die Zuid Afrika sinds mei 2008 op haar grondvesten doet wankelen. Bewoners ‘uit het buitenland’ werden beroofd en bekogeld met stenen. Meteen de volgende dag heeft de gemeenschap gereageerd. Maatschappelijke organisaties, waaronder Hokisa, belegden een bijeenkomst in het gemeenschapshuis waar de aanwezigen hun afkeuring uitspraken over de agressie tegen onschuldige mede-bewoners. Velen hadden gezien wie de daders waren. Ze werden opgeroepen om gestolen spullen terug te brengen, en een delegatie bezocht bedreigde bewoners om excuses aan te bieden en verzocht hen om toch vooral in Masi te blijven. Ook werd extra politieondersteuning aangevraagd. Het was de eerste keer dat townshipbewoners zelf in actie kwamen tegen de vreemdelingenhaat. Masiphumelele haalde daarmee de voorpagina van landelijke dagbladen.
De staf van Hokisa stuurde op 25 mei de volgende mail:
Dear Friends and Supporters of HOKISA,
In these last days you must have been angry at the violence directed at fellow-Africans within our borders, and will understand our deep dismay and shame at what happened in Masiphumelele, at the looting and crime and the picture conveyed to the world. You will probably also have been anxious about HOKISA itself, as you have supported us so loyally for so long.
Let us put your minds at rest about the children first: They continue to be well cared for and, though they are dismayed at what is happening around them, they are secure at HOKISA. Our team is spending much time in discussions with the older children and in play sessions with the little ones. We don’t hide ugly truths, and we talk openly with them about the xenophobia and prejudice. We also try to be there for the children when they hurt, as they do now with the loss of a beloved teacher and uncertainty about some of their friends.
Our staff have been involved in community action to secure redress for the victims. Lungelo, Shirley and Simphiwe report as follows:
“We are happy that the people of Masiphumelele would not let evil win over good. After the attacks on Thursday night, a series of meetings were convened in the Community Hall, by church leaders, community structures and political organisations. After this a declaration was adopted and signed. We are proud to say that HOKISA is part of that declaration, which guided the Operation Gqogqa (search and retrieve) to locate stolen goods and restore them to their owners. Arrests were made during that process.
On Sunday 25 May another meeting was convened, attended by the Premier of the Western Cape, Ebrahim Rasool, and the MEC for Safety and Security, Leonard Ramatlakane. The Premier in his speech commended and thanked the people of Masiphumelele for setting an example to other communities in South Africa, in respect of redress for injury done. The people of the township said to those that stole from the shops that they should bring the goods back. Even if they stole because they were hungry, what they did was wrong – and they stood up to correct it. Also, as part of the declaration, the leaders of different structures in Masi went to Soetwater, where the foreign nationals have been given shelter. They went there to extend an apology from the people of Masiphumelele to fellow Africans, for the pain caused to them during the attacks, and also to invite them back into the community.
When we left Soetwater, many were preparing to come back, and some have returned already.
In order to provide security for our fellow Africans, the Police must be more visible in Masiphumelele. We as a community should also provide security to our neighbours, because any threat to fellow Africans is a threat to us all.”
With warm regards from all of us at HOKISA, and greetings to you all
Lungelo, Shirley and Simphiwe.