So in the last couple of days I’ve been phoning around to some of the sites that have been sheltering displaced people. The group I’ve been working with, Durban Action Against Xenophobia, have some food donations and we wanted to check where they were most needed. Several police stations I called said they had nobody sheltering there any longer, but they had no idea where the people had gone (?). Then I called one of the Zimbabwean refugees who had been at a police station in Inanda. He said that they had all been chased away from the police station and were ‘hiding’ (his word, used repeatedly) in various places. He also said that he personally had recently been threatened again by ‘men with guns’ and was in hiding himself. Naturally, considering what’s going on there at the moment, none of these Zimbabweans are spectacularly keen to be repatriated.

Then I called a few churches. I had the same conversation about five times. It went something like this

Me: I’m just calling to find out if you still have anyone sheltering at your church, and what we might be able to do to help.

Church representative: Can you find somewhere else for these people to stay? We can’t shelter them any longer. Our facilities are not up to it and we really need the hall for the upcoming children’s camp/ holiday programme/ etc.

Me: I’m afraid we can’t help with that at the moment. Have you been in contact with Disaster Management or with Province?

CR: We’ve been visited by everyone – Disaster Management, Province, the UN. We told them all we have to get the people out this week. They haven’t done anything.

Me: How much longer can you keep the people there?

CR: They will have to go tomorrow/by Friday at the latest. We don’t know what to do, the authorities promised to help but they’re not doing anything. We can’t continue.

Five times I had this conversation. One guy said he was considering putting all the displaced people on a bus, bussing them into town and depositing them in the foyer of City Hall. I think that might just be an idea.

Where is the City? Where is Disaster Management? Where is Province? Mike Sutcliffe tells us this is all under control. It is very much not!