Johannesburg – While no armed soldiers were seen in the streets of the Alexandra on Tuesday night, one soldier said they were there.
A soldier at the Alexandra police station was asked by journalists whether his colleagues were already on duty, following an announcement by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula earlier on Tuesday that they would be deployed to volatile areas across the country.
The soldier said the army was in the community, but not in full view of the public.
Journalists had been waiting outside the police station from the early evening hoping to see the SA National Defence Force arrive, but were disappointed.
Instead, Mapisa-Nqakula returned to the station in the late evening. She entered and later emerged alongside Security Minister David Mahlobo.
A few foreign nationals, all men, waited outside the station to address her. They had gone to the police station to seek shelter. Mapisa-Nqakula asked them where their wives and girlfriends were.
“It’s our secret,” one man responded.
Mapisa-Nqakula told them law enforcement officials were there to protect them.
Some of the men told the two ministers they had legal documents to live and work in South Africa and could not understand why they were being attacked.
“We never kill anyone,” said one Somalian.
At least seven people have been killed in xenophobic violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in the past week. Four of them were foreigners. One man, Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole, was stabbed to death in Alexandra on Saturday morning. A foreign couple was shot and wounded in their Alexandra home on Monday night.