South Africa has been in the international news the past several days because of xenophobic attacks against foreigners. The attacks started in Durban, and last week spread to Johannesburg. The attacks are mostly against black foreigners from other African countries. Thus far, 6 people have been killed and many injured. We live in the downtown area of Johannesburg, and unfortunately our community has been targeted. Our community is full of foreign owned shops, and people from neighboring African countries. On Thursday night a mob of people came down our street smashing in foreign owned shops, looting, and firing bullets. Neither Isaac or I have ever been in a war zone, but the bullet fire sounded like we were in a war. It lasted from about 9pm to 2am. Many people who live in our apartments are from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, and other African nations. Residents left in the middle of the night, afraid for their safety. On Friday we had to finish our children’s program early when a mob started coming down the street, burning tires and terrorizing people.
The attacks have spread to other areas of Johannesburg, despite the increased police presence. African migrants are asking to be repatriated, and are going home in busloads. We read in the news that 1,500 Zimbabweans have already returned to their home country. Because we live on the 4th floor of our apartment building and our building has a ‘no visitor’ policy because of these attacks, we feel safe in our home. However, if things escalate and we are no longer able to stay in our building, a few friends who live in other regions have invited us to come stay with them. We hope and pray that it will not be necessary to leave, but we will be ready if that is the case.
Please pray for us, our safety, and that we will have peace in the middle of this storm. Pray for our neighbors, the children we serve, and the community we live in. Pray for police to protect all people, and to not act corruptly. Pray for the xenophobic acts to stop, and for peace between the South African and non-South African people.