NEWS

Anti-immigrant March: 'Why are they fighting us? Are we white'

Foreign nationals said they were confused as to why some South Africans don't want them in the country.

24/02/2017 14:05 SAST | Updated 24/02/2017 14:05 SAST
Marco Longari / Getty Images
Somali migrants armed with rocks and sticks watch from the back of a pick up truck as a police helicopter hover over an anti-immigration march in the Marabastad neighbourhood in Pretoria on February 24, 2017.

Foreign nationals involved in a tense stand-off with marchers protesting their presence in Pretoria said on Friday that South Africa is their home.

"This is my country. We can't go," Olayinka Ogunjimi told News24, standing with some of his countrymen. "Why are they fighting us? Are we white?"

He asked what would happen to them if they were forced to leave.

A man next to him rallied the group and said that if they had to fight, they would fight together.

Police had earlier used rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse foreign nationals and marchers near the home affairs department building in the city centre.

Bystander, journalist shot

People from both groups were seen carrying sticks and other items that could be used to attack or defend themselves.

Sello Tshatswayo said he was making his way home from school in the city centre when he was shot with rubber bullets. He had apparently been trying to catch a taxi. He had two bleeding circular wounds on his lower back.

Two journalists were also shot with rubber bullets, said News24 reporters on the ground. They received medical treatment.

A group calling itself the Mamelodi Concerned Residents is behind the march to the Department of Home Affairs in protest against immigrants in SA.

One of the foreign nationals in the crowd said: "The enemy has come to me. This is my country. We are in Africa. We are in an African country where we are all independent."

March 'uncalled for'

Another man, who did not identify himself, said that they were being followed despite having the right papers. He blamed President Jacob Zuma for the hostility.

"This march is uncalled for," he said.

Someone standing next to him said they were not stealing jobs from locals.

"We came here to make ends meet."

The police were seen stopping and searching every vehicle entering the area.

In one vehicle they found machetes. A foreign national was heard saying: "South Africans also have them."

News24