Cross-border theft sparks xenophobic threat in uMhlabuyalingana

President Jacob Zuma greets the multitudes gathered at the Manguzi sport grounds on Tuesday to address cross-border problems PHOTOS: Steven Makhanya

IN the wake of ongoing vehicle theft syndicates running riot in the uMhlabuyalinga area, President Jacob Zuma convened an urgent imbizo with irate community members on Tuesday in an attempt to avert a brewing conflict.

The imbizo was held at the Manguzi sport grounds.

Zululand areas have been plagued by the theft of motor vehicles, which are taken across the border to be sold in Mozambique.

The community decided to stage a protest at the border’s notorious Gate 6 to voice their anger at the ongoing onslaught by syndicates that target mostly 4x4s, bakkies and government emergency services vehicles such ambulances.

President Zuma, accompanied by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu and KZN Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda, provided fuming community members the opportunity to elaborate on their experiences and the theft of their prized possessions.

They lashed out at the police, accusing them of colluding with the criminals, telling the President they are ‘gatvol’ of waiting for the authorities to stop the criminals from harassing them.

Hundreds of uMhlabuyalingana community members listen to President Zuma’s address about government’s intentions to root out vehicle theft in the area

Xenophobia threat

A furious community representative Juda Mthethwa, reading from the memorandum handed over to the President, said they give the government three weeks to come up with ways to fight this scourge, ‘otherwise we will take the law into our own hands’.

‘Xenophobia has never been seen in these areas, but if these criminals from Mozambique continue stealing our vehicles, we will have no choice but to kick everyone from Mozambique out of our community.’

After receiving information about the seriousness of crime on the Mozambique border, Zuma said he decided to come and allay the fears gripping the community.

He blamed the courts for releasing the criminals, whom he said the police work hard to arrest.

‘As Government we are on a mission to traverse the length and breadth of South Africa in a bid to fight crime.

‘Our communities complain the law is criminal-friendly, but not to the victims.

‘The laws of the country must be firm so that the criminals don’t find it easy to get out of prison and victimise the witnesses,’ he stressed.

Acknowledging receipt of the memorandum of grievances, Zuma promised he would look into them and come up with solutions.

KZN Premier Willies Mchunu said the government has approved more than R50-million to be used to erect concrete pillars along the borderline to prevent stolen vehicles from being driven out of the country.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Voices raised against xenophobia 

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