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Hundreds of foreign nationals stranded in NW following protests

Most foreigners here say they are afraid to return to their communities while Mahumapelo remains in his position because they fear a resurgence of violence.

FILE: Running battles between protesters and police continue into the night in Mahikeng as demonstrators continue in their demands for the removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

MAHIKENG - More than 800 foreign nationals remain stranded in the North West and face an uncertain future after last month’s protests against Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

The mass action saw over 1,000 mostly foreign-owned shops being looted and some set alight.

Some foreigners were left without money, clothes or food after being displaced during the protests and are seeking refuge at nearby churches, NGOs and mosques.

Three weeks after the violent protests began in Mahikeng, Bangladeshi shop owner Jashim Uddin remains destitute and without shelter.

He has nothing but the clothes on his back.

He is one of the hundreds of people seeking refuge at a Madrassa in Mahikeng town, where he relies on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter.

"My money and my stock, my clothes... everything is gone."

Tanzid Hassan can’t understand why the government insists that the attacks on foreign-owned shops were not acts of xenophobia.

"Why didn't they attack the other local shops? That means they targeted us."

Most foreigners in Mahikeng say they are afraid to return to their communities while Mahumapelo remains in his position because they fear a resurgence of violence.

Meanwhile, North West Community Safety MEC Mpho Motlhabane has described the looting and destruction of foreign-owned shops as unfortunate.

“I wouldn’t say, for me, that they were xenophobic, they were more criminal, but on the second or third day [of the protest], we started realising the criminal elements. So, they were hijacked to a certain degree.”

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