Kenyans in South Africa say they are living in fear following the recent spate of xenophobic attacks targeting African immigrants.
Kenyans who spoke to Citizen Digital painted a picture of how bad the situation is; with some saying they escaped death by a whisker while others lost property.
Simeon*, who works at Gandhi Square in Johannesburg, said he found himself alone at the office on Wednesday as other employees stayed home out of fear for their lives.
“Looks like most people stayed home… Most shops are also closed for fear of attacks and looting,” he said.
Videos shared online showed hundreds of locals marching through the Central Business District looting, torching cars and breaking into shops owned by foreigners.
Joe*, who has lived in Gauteng for eight years, narrated how he escaped death narrowly on Tuesday evening. He said he was driving home through a town adjacent to Pretoria when a group of rioters blocked the road.
“They started throwing stones so I accelerated. My car windows were shattered and bits of glass cut me, but it could have been worse. I could have died,” he said.
He said five of his friends from different nationalities were killed while six business associates lost their property to looters.
“These attacks are targeting foreigners, none of us are safe. If they find you, they finish you,” said Joe*.
Another Kenyan, Mike*, said children are unable to attend school in Pretoria. “Most of these children are being raised by single mothers who have now lost everything and now have nowhere to go,” he said.
Stephanie*, a Kenyan mother of two, said rioters raided their neighborhood on Monday, only stealing from shops belonging to their African counterparts.
“I am home and can’t go to work. My two children can’t go to school because the rioters are blocking the roads or searching the vehicles. It is not safe,” she said.
“Black foreigners don’t even go for white-collar jobs since they are regulated. It’s almost impossible to get one since there are processes. If they cannot find a suitable person nearby, they even have to advertise and have to ensure that no citizen can fill the position before they give it to a foreigner,” Stephanie* added.
On Wednesday, Kenya High Commission in SA urged Kenyans to remain vigilant and report violence incidences to police.
“…Several Kenyan citizens have been affected by the recent spate of violence through arson and physical violence as well as reported incidences of looting in various sections of Gauteng province,” Kenyan High Commissioner Jean Kamau said in a statement.
Close to 200 people have so far been arrested in connection with arson, looting and physical attacks on immigrants in Pretoria, Johannesburg other cities.
Police officers fired teargas, rubber bullets and stun grenades in an attempt to stop the looting.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said the attacks are "something totally unacceptable, something that we cannot allow to happen in South Africa." "I want it to stop immediately," he said during an address.