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Police hunt for Mayfair 'kingpin' helping immigrants get SA papers

The man is allegedly providing illegal immigrants with relevant documents to stay in the country.

FILE: The man is also said to be helping the foreigners buy stock for their spaza shops which can be sold at extremely reduced prices.. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee has heard that police are aware there's a so-called kingpin in Mayfair who is allegedly helping illegal immigrants get papers to stay in the country.

The man is also said to be helping the foreigners buy stock for their spaza shops which can be sold at extremely reduced prices.

The committee is probing the violence between foreigners and locals in April which lead to looting, assaults and deaths.

The parliamentary team has however downplayed the violence saying it was merely a criminal element and slated the media for putting the country in a bad light.

Major General Zodwa Molefe says the police are not sure who the so-called 'kingpin' who helps illegal foreigners is.

"They will have to tell us who is this person. When they come here illegally, they go to this person who arranges the papers for them to stay in South Africa."

Foreigners selling stock at their spaza shops at extremely reduced prices in townships apparently make it difficult for local businessmen to compete.

Committee chair Ruth Bhengu said, "It is a very painful situation for a country to be labelled xenophobic when people were protesting against genuine concerns."

She says the country must focus on "the behaviour of the private sector employing people who are willing to accept slave wages".

"APRIL VIOLENCE WAS NOT XENOPHOBIC"

Police in Alexandra yesterday told the committee that they have no evidence suggesting that the violence between foreigners and locals in April was xenophobic.

The committee spent the day in Alexandra, speaking to police and traditional leaders, to determine the root problem and decide on permanent interventions.

Traditional leaders and the police told the Parliamentary team that it was only a few criminal youngsters who wanted to cause trouble.

Molefe said there was no meeting or placard organised between locals to make a decision to attack foreign nationals.

"There wasn't even a placard or something to say people of Alex are saying this."

She was answering questions raised by committee representatives, who slated the media accusing journalists for distorting the truth, labelling it as xenophobia when it was not the case.

Bhengu said, "It had more to do with poverty and crime. What were they looting? Food, things they can eat so how does that then become xenophobia?"

Traditional leaders have called on the media to publicly apologise for wrongly using the word xenophobia.

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