From the news desk

CT more open to foreign nationals

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Saturday 20th June marked World Refugee Day, a day aimed at creating awareness within local communities and globally, of the plight and discrimination of refugees and displaced people. While parts of South Africa has seen an increase in xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in recent months, few reports seem to be stemming from the Cape Town community. VOC News ventured to find out whether or not Cape Town is a more welcoming city to foreign migrants than its counterparts elsewhere in the country. Through conducting a random survey on the city’s streets, the results proved to be nothing less than what was predicted – capetonians don’t mind foreign migrants, as long they don’t intefere with locals.

But others are perturbed by the lack of unemployment and business opportunities for locals. During the random survey, Fatimah Maart from Salt River believes that she is now unemployed due to the fact that foreign migrants are willing to work for less the wages.

“I can’t seem to get a job. I am a coloured, I was born and bred here but yet, they are taking all the jobs available for us. We can’t settle for the amount of money they are willing to work for. Its painful to see government allowing this without making provision for us coloured people,” Maart explained.

While Maart withheld her comment at times, for fear of presenting herself as a racist, she added that foreign migrants have infiltrated the city and now seem to run more businesses than Capetonians are.

However, Maart’s view had been echoed by only 30% of all participants that day. The rest were of the opinion that South Africa should open it’s doors to foreign migrants from Africa in particular, as and provide a place of solace. Shedino Wessels, the owner of a salon on Salt River’s busy main road told VOC News that a hand of safety and security should be extended to foreign African migrants, as this was offered to SA during the Apartheid regime.

Meanwhile, foreign nationals surveyed in the study, from countries such as Zimbabwe and Egypt both expressed a lack of fear in the community, especially on the back of the recent xenophobic tensions.

Andrew Moraki from Zimbabwe attributed the recent violent outbreaks to criminals looking for a justification to their actions.

“I have never feared walking around here. Maybe it’s because of the area I stay in but I have never been mistreated in any way here in Cape Town,” Moraki said.

But co-founder and secretary general of the Muslim Refugee Association of South Africa (MRASA), Isgaak Kattiganzi said through his work within the local Western Cape community, residents have always been welcome to foreign nationals.

“Many of the people from within the Muslim community in the Western Cape have employed foreign migrants. We find that many foreign migrants have a lot to offer in terms of a particular skill set.” When foreigners come into the country, there are many cultural differences. In terms of communication and completely integrating foreign migrants into the community more needs to be done.

“People not only in Cape Town but all over the world display hesitance,” Kattiganzi continued.

“Xenophobia is here in Cape Town but we see it more in the townships, amongst the low income earners. Because of these challenges and struggles, small businesses owned by foreign migrants who often don’t have legal documentation for residency, fall victim to the frustration and desperation of locals in their neighbourhood.”

Kattiganzi says MRASA works to understand and inform others about what xenophobia is and the impact it has on a community. More often than not, xenophobia stems from situations where individuals feels threatened, scared and lack understanding about the presence of foreign migrants within their neighbourhoods. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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